Along the way: Aniya Emtage Legnaro

Making the decision to leave your paid work and pursue your creativity is scary and daunting. Aniya of Life Photography by Aniya shares her story and why she finally decided to take that step in her journey.

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For two years, every night I’d put the girls to bed, clean the kitchen, and drag my feet to the computer and start my second job: editing last weekends’ family session. I’d have my pen in my hand, and open my eyes at 3am, head heavily slumped down with the computer having gone to sleep with me. Realizing I have only 3 more hours before my girls wake me up, I’d rush to bed. At 6am, I put on my “serious” work clothes, which consisted of nothing I would ever actually wear, because as a criminologist for the Barbados Government, we could not show tattoos (which I have on my arm), and the dress code called for “solemn” attire. 

Although I loved my work, Istarted to resent my job. It was taking time away from what I loved – photography. I started to resent my clients because I could only photograph them on weekends, they were taking away the little time I had with my family. Worst of all, I started to resent my family, because they were sucking away time that I yearned to have for myself. Something had to change.

I knew in my heart that I couldn’t be a criminologist any longer. Visiting prisons, working with human trafficking, and at risk youth - it was a dark world that was becoming more ominous. Juxtapose this with the absolute joy I was getting from photographing life – for myself and for others. But taking that jump – that was going to take courage. It was as though I was standing at the edge of a cliff. All of my friends had taken the jump and were looking up at me, hands in the air shouting “JUMP!” I wanted to so badly. But everyday, fear took over as I would look over the cliff, and make the decision to turn away from it.

 

Until one day, I asked myself: what’s your fear? Is it that you won’t have money to survive? That you’re selling yourself short because you have your masters and a law degree and something big is in store for your career? None of these came to mind when I thought of my fears. My greatest fear, was not in fact, about leaving the job. It was my regret if I didn’t.

I then wrote my resignation letter.

The day I left my colleagues had a huge going away party – fit with a camera cake and all. I was sad to go, but the personal, professional and creative freedom that was waiting for me outside those doors is nothing I could have ever imagined.

It’s not been easy. I’ve had to learn now to run a business. I’ve had to learn how to handle finances, and how to save.  I’ve had to accept that there is no longer a guaranteed cheque coming in every month, and as such, we’ve had to tighten everything up.

Would I give it up? NEVER.

It’s been 7 months since I left my job as a criminologist and been a full time photographer. In those few months my work has grown exponentially. I’ve been able to explore more creative photography, work on documentary projects (both personal and professional) practice like mad and take courses (that I finally have time to do!) But best of all, I have more time with my family. This is something I cannot put a price tag on. I missed so much already between being there but not there, angry all the time, and simply not around.

If you can, go for it. There is only one life we have. Make it yours. You do not want regrets at the end.