German-born SANDRA MACHEROUX has experienced expat life as a child, as a single professional, and as a wife and a mother, and feels blessed to have had the opportunity to travel all around the globe. She lives in Singapore with her husband and their two boys. Sandra was an established veterinarian before a camera changed her life.
Breaking my 20-year veterinarian career didn’t happen overnight. As a vet, every day is unpredictable, emotional, challenging and rewarding. Most in the profession let their busy careers shape their lives.
When I became a mum, I had to reduce my hours. I thought part-time work would fulfil me just as much as my mad, 16-hour, action-packed days used to. It didn’t. What’s more, I felt like I didn’t get to do the cool surgeries or the challenging work anymore. Instead, I’d have to leave early to pick up the kids, and I missed out on the action.
The thing is, being a vet was all I ever thought I would be. In my head, it was my identity, and what I was known as to friends, family and clients. I never thought another profession could fulfil me.
Eventually, my creative side was able to rise above the scientist in me. When my husband bought a DSLR for the family, it both intimidated me and intrigued me. I’ve always loved looking at stunning images, but any photos I took looked so ordinary. So I decided to study online for a diploma in photography, to learn about the techniques, Unleashing Creativity the theory and the art of photography. Still, I kept hearing a nagging voice in my head telling me that creativity wasn’t my strength.
I persevered and practised, and in time began to take some very beautiful pictures; friends and strangers commented on how they were touched by certain shots. As I got into the swing of photography, I finally felt passion and excitement again. I became hooked on this newfound creativity as it started to play a major role in my life.
I enjoyed my personal growth, but I also wanted to empower others who shared my passion for photography but lacked technique and knowledge. In time, I started holding workshops for people who wanted to become more skilful shutterbugs. Everything has grown from there. Now, I run a small but healthy business from a lovely space that I rent in the groovy Haji Lane area, where I display and sell my art and also hold my photography classes. I’m so grateful to my creative side for telling the scientist in me to chill out for a while, because I’m certainly having a fabulous time!
I believe you can turn anything into a profession if you’re committed to it. Passion alone won’t get you to your goal, but without its driving force, you won’t put in the hours. I can recommend many motivational speakers on this, from Simon Sinek, Seth Godin and Brené Brown to the dynamic Tony Robbins, all of whom describe your “why” as being integral to the success of your business. You have to truly know and understand why you’ve chosen it, because other people can immediately sense that your “why” is based on genuine joy and excitement, rather than the pursuit of money. Being genuine matters in any business today.
I relish not having to be so analytical about things anymore. I pre-visualise and even pre-design my images. I’ve developed my own style, and the feeling of getting a beautiful shot to look just how I want it to look still blows me away. It’s playful, exciting and rewarding. I’m very grateful to call this work, and also to be able to make an income from selling my prints, be it an image on a small coaster or a large piece of wall art. Challenges do come my way, as they do for all of us; but I think they highlight the need for us to learn a particular lesson at that point in time. There’s always room for improvement and growth.
If you’re fearful about making a change, take time to learn about how fear is produced in the brain – it’s very enlightening. Knowing how our weird and wonderful minds work can help you to recognise new opportunities when they come knocking, and to embrace them. Life is a box of chocolates. Don’t miss out on the yummy stuff because you hesitated for too long!
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