Mackenzie Frank is a clear example that taking charge of your own happiness and being willing to take risks can result in great success. With a BFA in Applied Photography at Northern Kentucky University, Mackenzie’s love for photography grew so much after graduation, that it was all she could think about. Now, at 24 years old, she is a full-time published photographer, founder of her own successful photography business and a freelance photographer for Cincinnati Business Courier and USA Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce.
On the road to success, like anyone else, she experienced her fair share of challenges. Concern and criticism from family and friends who didn’t agree with her career choice became a problem. “I had a ridiculous amount of co-workers, relatives, and friends ask what the heck I was going to do with a degree in photography and how I could make a lifestyle out of it by simply pressing a button, because that’s all photography is, right? Wrong. Photography is an entire world. It has benefited me in so many ways.”, Mackenzie asserts.
Her challenges didn’t end there. Though unrelated, her growing problem of anxiety was now too much to ignore. Mackenzie’s battle with anxiety caused her to experience fear and high levels of stress when facing necessary tasks like driving to foreign grounds for photo shoots, participating in interviews and even having simple conversations with strangers. Though she struggled with anxiety in the past, she attributes it’s growth to the stress of growing her business and her fear of disappointing her clients. “When you own and run your own business, especially in the beginning you are doing EVERYTHING yourself. This includes the obvious such as shooting and editing, but it also consists of marketing, invoices, accounting, taxes, emails, etc.”, she shares.
She continues, “When you first start out on your business adventure, you feel like you have to say yes to everything. In the first year, I didn’t turn down a single shoot because I thought to myself, “What if I have a bad month where I don’t shoot [and] I make absolutely no money.” Once you get more established and have more experience, you learn that you can say no and focus more on subjects that you enjoy photographing.”
Mackenzie believes that anxiety is an issue that many entrepreneurs tend to face because “everything is riding on yourself”.
“There is no scapegoat or anyone to fix your mistakes.”, Mackenzie explains, “You are 100% responsible for your name, and that can be awesome, as well as extremely scary. Even if something goes wrong and has nothing to do with you, you could get a client in a bad mood that is ready to spread dirt on your name. When you have your own business, everything needs attention. ”
“While I loved the work, I was destroying myself.”
After finding out her resting heart rate had exceeded the normal level and was negatively affecting her blood pressure, Mackenzie began to contemplate how missed meals, limited sleep and exhaustion from being overworked was affecting her happiness and health. “I was very blessed to have a multitude of other photographers and individuals go out of their way to tell me they were inspired by my work ethic and effort which meant so much, but made me think that if I kept up this routine of not eating and not sleeping, I might not be able to continue to do what I love.”
Mackenzie soon consulted a mentor who told her that she’d be much happier if she started saying “no”. After considering their advice, Mackenzie started to create a balance between prioritizing her company, happiness and mental health. She shares, “I’ve learned that it is okay to make changes in your life, especially relating to your career if you are unhappy, whether that be switching jobs, branching out, the amount of hours you work, or projects you take on. It’s not selfish to care about your mental health or want to be happy. It is so important, especially when you’re working with others.”
With a new balance and sharp focus, Mackenzie is excited to enter 2018, which is so promising that it already includes a fully booked wedding season and gigs in Chicago, Hawaii, California and other beautiful destinations. Mackenzie is also continuing to push towards completing more goals, such as owning her own studio, being published yearly and building her first house. She hopes that everyone will accept that their life belongs to them, take control of their own happiness and not wait until it’s too late.
“Don’t wait until it’s too late. Find your talent, and learn every day.”, Mackenzie encourages, “Reach out and find a few mentors. There is so much to learn and I have only scratched the surface. I guarantee you, there is a direct correlation between effort and success. If you screw up, find a way to make it right and don’t ever stop trying to better yourself, you’ll thank yourself at the end of the day. Don’t live to be comfortable, that’s when you stop growing, and growing is such a good thing.”