Drone Image; photo by Christopher Duggan

The pandemic helped me discover who I am

by | Nov 15, 2021 | Meet Christopher | 0 comments

The pandemic has been brutal. For everyone. Awful. Devastating. In so many ways.

This is my story…

Pre-pandemic, if I were to describe myself, I would say:

I am a wedding, event, and dance photographer working in New York City venues that most photographers around the world only dream about. 

The Pierre Hotel, The Plaza, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, private estates in the Berkshires and beyond…

(New York Public Library and Museum of Natural History are still on my bucket list 😉).

I’ve photographed weddings with budgets in the hundreds of thousands. I had an office in Times Square. I’ve worked 1,000+ weddings in 20 years in business, and most photographers don’t last 5! I’ve won awards and exhibited in museums. I’m recommended by high-end planners.

I am the Festival Photographer at the world-renowned Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and the Vail Dance Festival, photographing important, cutting-edge, beautiful work danced by incredible dancers.

Basically, the answer to the question “who am I?” was all based on my ego and the work that I did. Who am I was only answerable with what I dowhere I work, and who calls me.

When the pandemic struck, all of my work disappeared overnight:

  • All of my weddings were postponed
  • All of my events and dance engagements canceled until further notice
  • There was zero new business coming in

Financially, it was really hard. I went on unemployment. I had to ask the bank for a deferment on our mortgage and cried on the phone with them.

Emotionally, I was lost. I walked around my apartment for a few days, wandering from room to room, wondering what to do. If I had no work, I had no idea who I was.

My wife Nel’s video business lost a lot of work in the first few weeks, too. But then, dance companies realized they needed video more than ever to reach their audiences at home. Her business became the busiest it’s ever been.

So, while Nel worked, my full-time job became: taking care of the kids, going to Costco, doing the laundry, making food, and keeping my wife’s coffee cup hot and full.

Day after day, week after week, I slowly discovered that who I am isn’t my job, and it isn’t what I produce, and it isn’t who I work with or what fabulous venues I get to work in…

Who I am is creativity, love, and kindness.

My business slowdown during the pandemic allowed me to slow down, too. I began to show up for my clients in a different way—to simply listen and be of service to them as they rearranged and re-planned. I brought that mix of creativity, love, and kindness to every project and every person.

Now that weddings and events are happening safely in person again, I’m back to photographing incredible people in impressive venues with talented colleagues and exciting challenges.

But the new challenge I face each morning is to continue to show up for my family, my clients, and myself with creativity, love, and kindness. 

I’m really proud of who I’ve discovered I am, and that I get to be that person each and every day.

Warm wishes,

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