Pain Nourishes Courage

The Oxford dictionary defines courage as “the ability to do something that frightens one and strength in the face of pain or grief.” Reflecting on my life I can see my courage. I have overcome situations and obstacles that took great courage. When it comes to being seen and pricing my work I have not had courage.

Throughout this post you will see macro photographs of Smoke that I captured this week.

As I started my journey in photography, money was a secondary thought. My focus was purely on learning and creating without too much concern around financial reward. After graduating with my degree in Photo Technology it became clear how hard it could be for photographers to make ends meet. For experience or little revenue I kept accepting projects regardless of their affordability. I experienced great anxiety when asked about my pricing and found it difficult to narrow my specialty.

It has been 13 Years since I graduated. I have the character, experience and skill to thrive as a photographer and artist. Yet, here I am working tirelessly without the means to pay bills and provide for my future. It would be nice to blame the pandemic or the recession. Granted these things have impact but the greatest impact on my business is my fear.

A friend of mine asked me to think about these two questions.

1.What am I afraid of?

2. What do I need to do to feel safe enough to risk?

My fear is based in being afraid of rejection because of my pricing. The fear of loosing opportunity and fear of loosing my business. I have allowed this fear run my business. The result is a cycle of pain. I must face this fear and find the courage to change.

What do I need to do to feel safe enough to risk? I need to embrace my 25 years of experience, my education, and my skill. I need to be confident in my value and step forward into 2023.

Despite having fears to overcome, I’m learning that courage comes when I risk without knowing the outcome. In order for me to achieve success and always remember my value, it’s important for me to stand by my prices no matter what – even if this means taking a chance at being turned away. Instead of feeling like I need justifications or excuses in order justify why something costs X amount (i.e., industry standard), I have found more power within myself through embracing these risks with confidence instead of fear.

At 48 years old I am determined to not give up. Instead, I’m recommitting myself and will share my skills with the world by applying for positions that I have quietly wanted inside but did not try to attain. Additionally, showcasing photos and stories alongside adjusting prices appropriately is part of my new plan all in hopes to create new opportunities.

Photographing smoke has been therapeutic for me. I like the technical challenge and the calm that comes from seeing the emerging designs. These moments help me reflect and focus. I used my Nikon D850, 35mm Nikon Lens, Profoto a1 flash, reflector, and incense.

Keep on Creating,

Kim Zahnow

2 responses to “Pain Nourishes Courage”

  1. Thank you for writing this. I also understand how much anxiety can eat away at confidence, in art and in business. I struggle so much with my camera. Your words are a reminder than I am not alone; that even those whose relationships with their cameras are far more rewarding than mine can also wrestle with the same questions. Thank you… (And, I love your smoke images. : )


    1. Thank you Ree for sharing. I am thankful that you have found this connection here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: