Quiet Revolutionary Ebbe Sweet’s Story
When I was twenty-two years old, I was thrilled to land my dream job straight out of college working at a dance photography studio. My first few days were a blur of introducing myself to everyone in the studio, interacting with clients, and meeting all of the artists who came through the studio to be photographed. The energy of the studio was so different from anything I had experienced at my small college, and I lived for the challenge of it all.
But a challenge it certainly was: between all of the new people, new tasks, and constant need to be “on,” I was inwardly cursing my introverted nature and wishing that embracing so much change and commotion came naturally to me. My boss so effortlessly possessed the extroverted temperament that seemed to be required in such a fast-paced environment. He was the life of the party, calling out directions over the blaring music; the subjects of his photos seemed to feed off his energy, leaping high into the air with exuberant facial expressions to match.
The more time I spent in the studio, the more I doubted myself. My ultimate career goal was to start my own photography business and I worried that if I couldn’t keep up in someone else’s studio, I would never be able to start out on my own. I worried so much, and I spent so much energy trying to reshape my personality to match the high energy of the studio, that I lost touch with the reason I worked at the studio in the first place: my love of photography.
So I quit. I took a job working with young children, where a patient temperament was valued over an extroverted one, where being excessively thoughtful was seen as a strength, not a waste of time. Unsure of how to incorporate photography into my new life but confident I didn’t want to give it up, I started photographing my environment: a school field trip here, a child’s birthday party there, with the occasional family portrait session in between. Since I was the one running the show, I could focus on what I do best: quietly observing details, then using my camera to commit those fleeting childhood moments to forever memory.
Almost immediately, the feedback came pouring in: “you captured exactly who we are,” “my kids loved you,” and “I told all my friends about your photos, and they want to shoot with you too.” Portrait sessions became more and more frequent, and finally my subscription-based family portrait business was born. I am so grateful to have found a way to succeed at something I love without having to change the core of who I am. In the right environment, my introverted temperament became, instead of a hindrance to overcome on the path to my dream career, the very thing that made my work stand out.