So this is it. In July I finally bought the camera I had dreamed of for nearly a decade. The box arrived quickly but sat unopened for over a month. I was scared. What if I don’t use it enough to make it worth the cost? What if I take ugly pictures? I’m so out of practice with manual cameras, where do I start? I can still return it, right?

Thanks to the unwavering support of family and friends, in particular one friend who insisted that I get started by doing a family portrait session with her husband and kiddos over Labor Day weekend. I was completely terrified. How do I take natural, beautiful photos of this amazing family? The day of the shoot, I opened the box, dug out the camera and charged the battery. I can do this. I can do hard things.

Within minutes of charging the battery, I realize, with panic, that something is wrong. Very wrong. I can’t focus the camera on anything closer than 10′. I also realize that I’m beyond the 30-day return/exchange policy for defective equipment. With mounting terror, I wonder how I can explain to B&H Photo that why yes, I have had the box for weeks, but I didn’t open it because I was too scared and could they pretty please help me with my new and very expensive broken camera? Total panic. I can do hard things.

Thankfully it was just the 50mm lens I had bought three years ago in anticipation of buying the Canon 5D. But I had never used the lens, so now I was mad. And still panicking because I needed to get to the photo shoot. On my way out the door, another friend let me borrow her Nikon. I don’t use Nikons. Never have. I had no idea what I was doing, what file format I was shooting, nothing. But I had a family excited to romp around the park and the beach, so I had to get out there and just hoped the camera was set on automatic. I can do hard things.

At 3pm, the day was still too hot, the sun was way too bright, the kids were hungry, so was the husband, but you know what? I got out there, I got some snaps, and after weeks of studying Lightroom, I now had something to edit. It all starts somewhere, right?

I can do hard things.