JEN SHANNON

“Begin With The End In Mind”

“Begin With The End In Mind”

March 23, 2018

“Begin with the end in mind,” they say.

It’s been ten years since I sat in my living room in our home up north; Colby trying to nail in new baseboards and me with my feet propped up, laptop open, trying to come up with a name for what I decided would be my business. I fondly remember that cold night in March.

Over the last ten years, I’ve grown tremendously as a person and business owner. My desire to be a working artist burned deeply in the fibers God created me with. This journey has been an incredible one and while I didn’t know where it would take me, I’m so proud that eventually I’ve arrived here.

It is with many mixed emotions that I officially announce that I will be closing my photo studio. It’s been an incredible 2.5 years in my current studio space and 10 years as a working professional photographer. It certainly wasn’t easy arriving at this decision. Without putting everything on the internet for everyone, there have been many life changes for us, some of which include grim news of close family members, elation of becoming pregnant with our 4th (and final) child, frustrations of work life balance, etc.

After months of discussions with key people, friends, and lots and lots of prayer, Colby and I made the decision that it would be best for me to come out on top. This decision has been met with great joy in that I’ve accomplished so much more than I could have ever dreamed in the beginning. I’ve created legacies for so many families, both established and those starting a new chapter in life. I’ve met incredible people with stories of great strength, resilience, and inner peace. Some clients have passed along the way; my portrait creations being something these families of lost loved ones have come to treasure the most, and I don’t take that lightly. I remember the first client I had that passed in a plane crash. I was devastated for their families, but it gave me perspective on just how important my work is to people and also how important and fragile life is.

I could go on and on about what led to this decision, but like Oprah, I’d rather leave you with nuggets of wisdom and my plans and hopes for the future.

My husband and I have also been on an incredible journey together. I’ve reached an age where I’ve spent half of my life with him (17 years, almost 12 of those married). We have four incredibly beautiful souls God has allowed us to created together through love, the last of which will be here May 25th. This is not the part where I tell you that our kids are my life or that to have a meaningful life you need to have children. It is, however, time for me to step back and enter this new phase of my life with a clear conscience with focus on our families.

The last thing I want my children to remember about me being home with them is that I always had my cell phone or laptop in my hands. I want to stop pushing them off on the tv or hoping they sleep in late enough for me to “get work done.” I don’t want to continue to see disappointment on their faces when they ask me to play and I have to tell them, “maybe in a little bit” because I’m trying to finish up work.

We made a decision long before we had children that I would stay at home to be the primary caretaker of these beautiful souls. I would be doing my family a disservice to be here to make sure they stay safe but not have the time to be involved in their lives. I didn’t go into having children for them to be raised by tablets, televisions, etc. I cannot continue to live with the guilt of spending unplugged time with them, only to end that time and think, “Gosh, I could have used that time to catch up on marketing, blogging, social media, etc.” It should be the other way around and this realization led to my need to take a step back from all of the pressures of running a successful portrait studio and know that while it was my first “baby” it wasn’t a baby at all. It isn’t flesh of my flesh. It isn’t bone of my bone. It doesn’t have soul. It doesn’t feel pain. It merely exists.

Is this the end of my photographic career? I don’t know. For now, I plan to focus my efforts on some side projects I’ve been working on but never had the time to devote to it, but most of all, I will focus on our kids/home. I will continue to create. That is who I am at the fiber of my being. I have so many talents that I enjoy that I can create with so I don’t lose myself in devoting myself to the role of motherhood. In five years, all of our kids will be in school. Who knows where I’ll be then; maybe a photographer, maybe a painter, maybe a blogger, but one thing I will NOT be is a mother who isn’t there for her children or one who is absent from being present with them.

While I do not have a specific close date for the physical location, I can tell you that I will not be accepting shoots after May 1st when I go on maternity leave.

I leave you with these nuggets of wisdom that I’ve learned along my way.

Never take your dreams for granted. They may take you places you never knew you could go.

Always be true to who you are. Had I followed the plan laid out for me, I’d be miserable in corporate America, dead inside.

Crazy dreams are just that until you decide to put one foot in front of the other so they become attainable.

There will always be people who love you that say things that discourage your hopes and dreams. Know it’s only because they care about you and don’t want to see you potentially hurt by failure or struggle.

Life is full of chapters. Allow them to close so you can move on to the next one, even if it hurts. Your pride lives in what you’ve accomplished, not what you “have” at any given time.

Love really is the death of self. Putting your own wants, desires, and goals aside for the greater good of your loved ones is sometimes necessary, sometimes a hard decision to make, but it doesn’t mean it’s over. It just means “not right now.”

If you want something and are willing to put in the effort and throw aside every excuse that comes your way, you can achieve anything and everything.

Have kids. Don’t have kids. There’s no right or wrong answer on that. Choose how you want to raise them and stay true to your values. Everyone’s values are different.

This quote was a huge drive in my business. It’s by Shannon Adler. “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”

Lastly, I leave you with a quote that has become the mantra of my business. It became part of my business in 2012/2013 when I created a promo video for my business called Legacy and I ended the video saying this.

“When you put down the pen to your life, what will you leave behind?”

  1. Karen

    March 23rd, 2018 at 1:57 am

    Sweet friend, trust me. This is the best decision of your life. Snap your fingers… they’re grown and gone. It goes by so fast. I wish so much I had spent more time looking into those precious little eyes and LISTENING. Do I have regret? Absolutely. I wish I had spent more time with them. I can never get it back. So don’t be sad about your business. You have the rest of your life to work. 🙂

  2. Mom

    March 23rd, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    I am so proud of you, and all if you’ve accomplished! It is with great wisdom, experience and faith that you have come to this decision. As you write the story of your life I know you are writing with careful intentionality, you are not making decisions lightly but with great faith . As you close this chapter and open another, I know it will be great and you will sow with passion into your endeavors and you will make it great! I love you Jen, and I am so proud of you.

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