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.

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  • Lisa Robinson

    Ebbe, the way you described what you do best shows how your work connects with others. Your words are beautiful and inspiring to me on my own career journey. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much, Lisa! Wishing you the best on your own journey.

  • Conchieta

    Your story bares witness to following your true/ core passion. I take heart with the challenge to walk away from the “standard” and find your passion in what you enjoy. I hope I can find my niche likewise. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you so much for your kind comments! Cheering you on as you find your niche.

  • thanks for your history Ebbe. Nothing more great that feeling this free by showing yourself in the right place, with the right people in the perfect environment

    • Thank you for reading and for commenting!

  • Manini

    Your story is an inspiration Ebbe. I am yet to find my fit. As an introverted mother of 2 , I am struggling to find the right fit which does not take me away from them when they come home from school, and yet fulfills me. Soon I hope..

    • Rob W

      As a father of one (10 month) I would love nothing more than to turn my passion of photography into a career that I love rather than doing my daily job in a dull grey open-planned office stuck behind a computer programming other peoples idea’s and constantly being interrupted or told to “multitask”.

      But alas, with a child, mortgage, and debts there is little chance of such a thing happening any time soon. And thats all before trying to get over perfectionism and doubts of doing my own business.

      • Social media/web could be helpful in getting started. I’m sure you have taken lovely photos of your child, and you could start with building a client network through sharing those photos. Best of luck! I am such a perfectionist as well.

    • Thank you so much! I am sure you will find your path. Maybe your children will lead you to it!

  • Ray Doraymefa

    It’s so important to capture the “real” subject, because in large part it’s how the subject will be remembered. So much of our individual lives and collective history is memorialized by photographers. It’s essential to have a sensitive, perceptive and aware person behind the camera, and it’s not surprising that an introverted “observer” would pursue photography.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful response!