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OK so I’m going to try this again URGH! (hopefully the third time is the charm)

Megan, no need to apologize.  I think it’s wonderful that you are communicating and trying to understand, and trying to explain how you feel as well.  Even though we have never met, I think you are a good person with the best intentions.

If you are really in this to express yourself artistically through photography, I know you will listen to all that was said, and listen to your gut has been trying to tell you as well.  If it’s more about attention, acknowledgment, popularity, or a way to have your loved ones and yourself validate/understand what you do by adding monetary gain into the equation, then it will be about your business and not about you or your photography, and you will continue to struggle with it until you move on to something else.

A while back someone posted on a family member’s behalf, and I want you to read it

There are other ways for people in your life to encourage you.  Teach them how.  When you say “no” to someone wanting you to take their important portraits or cover their event, you aren’t saying “I am unwilling to help you”.  In fact you can offer to help them find the right pro for the job.  Not only will they admire it, and respect you for it, but you will be teaching them the value of what you are trying to achieve, and the value of good photography.  Saying “no” frees you to learn and discover how good your photography can be.  The demand WILL die down.  Believe me there is a lot less expense being a student than there is being in business, as long as you are serious and honest about it.  Shooting for others no matter the money involved or even for free, is completely different than shooting for yourself, once you really commit to it and are comfortable with it and it’s lack of attention and Facebook likes, you’ll really grow and learn so much from it.

No matter what you chose to do next, you own it.  It’s yours and yours alone.  Own it, and be comfortable with it.  I wish you the best

“My point is that photo art is only as good as the photo. If it is not a good photo, it will not be good photo art. I’m not a photo artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I have learned through what little experimentation I’ve done with it that if you want to do it, you must shoot your images in a very specific way depending on the effect you want and you must do it with a level of technical precision beyond what is required for normal shooting”
MBC nailed it! (of course he usually does)  Build that foundation first Megan, the decorating will come later.