The Road Less Traveled by… Are We There Yet?

April 9, 2014

“The Road Less Traveled By” is a series intended to help you along the path to discovering your unique artist’s voice. If you’ve just joined us you might enjoy catching up HERE.

On long travel days, when the scenery whizzing by has lulled us all into a mindless coma, my children are apt to start a chorus of a Veggie Tales song, “Are We There Yet?” It’s a valid question coming from the backseat, and one that I often find myself asking when my journey with photography seems long and I feel like I’m not in the driver’s seat.

I’d like to share some secrets I’ve learned on this trip that can help us keep going when we find ourselves lamenting, “Are We There Yet?”

Tammy Smith Photography

It was a beautiful day in Chattanooga when we set out across the old trestle bridge headed for Coolidge Park. We’d stayed an extra day in the city just for this, and my children were looking forward to a ride on the vintage carousel when we got to the other side. At 2376 feet long it’s one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world and I was a little nervous about everyone’s ability to walk both directions. As an incentive (read bribe) I promised that we’d get ice cream after the return trip if I didn’t have to carry anyone. My older children scoffed, as if I’d have to carry them, but I reminded them that they would be sharing the burden if our littles got discouraged.

My children danced across the bridge, their excitement for what lay ahead kept them from feeling the distance.

Unfortunately when we reached our destination, we found the carousel quiet and dark. My children were devastated. It had been a long walk…for nothing.

Do we ever feel like this in our photography journey? We’re so excited as we begin our journey and then things don’t go as planned? Maybe a customer doesn’t ooh and ahh over the images we’ve created for them, or we share a picture online that we’re soooo excited about only to be met with crickets. Maybe we get a new camera or lens and it doesn’t magically create the images we thought it would. All of these moments of disappointment can make the journey seem long and steal the joy we had when we started.

The challenge is continuing the journey after a setback. For my children, we still had to walk another 2376 feet back across the bridge.


It was going to be a long walk, and I won’t lie and tell you that I didn’t seriously considered taking a taxi as I looked at the distance that lay ahead.

We crossed the bridge a little slower the second time but something unexpected happened. This time we noticed things along the way that we’d missed in our headlong dash toward our intended goal. We enjoyed each other’s company, we looked at the river traffic, we talked about the history of the bridge and read the signs along the way that explained how they’d built the bridge. We held hands, and yes we took turns carrying the little ones, but when we finally arrived at the other end we were once again in good spirits and wiser for retracing our steps at a slower pace.

And then we celebrated with ice cream!

On the walk to the van Abigail discovered that she could flip upside down when supported on both sides. Everyone stopped and cheered as she did it over and over! Then Liberty wanted to try. When we take a moment to reflect, slow down and reward ourselves for our efforts creativity flows and we inspire others.


Here are the secrets I promised that will help you when your journey seems long:

  1. Retracing our steps can lead to greater knowledge and help us see things we missed the first time around.
  2. Look back at your history, remember how for you’ve come.
  3. Don’t walk alone; hold hands and cheer each other on.
  4. It’s ok to create incentives (read bribes) for reaching a milestone.
  5. Don’t take yourself too seriously; have fun and try something new.

What kind of incentives keep you walking forward on your journey? Share your ideas in the comments and inspire the rest of us!


Tammy Smith, Photographer

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Tammy Smith is a rebellious daydreamer who believes that the most memorable pictures are taken when no one is looking at the camera. She hails from Alaska and has ten children, one grandson, and an extremely patient husband. She has a weakness for root beer floats, grilled cheese, and the piano guys. She’s coming to your area soon on her Sea to Shining Sea Adventure so don’t hesitate to reach out and say hi and she’ll meet you at the closest soda shop.

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  • Reply Sandy April 9, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Thank you Tammy! You are such a great encourager. This is just what I needed to hear today.

    • Reply Tammy Smith April 10, 2014 at 11:51 am

      Thank you Sandy! It has been my pleasure to watch your journey! :)

  • Reply Adelle April 9, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    I have enjoyed “tagging along” on your journey and love the insight you’ve shared. P.S. You have some great writing skills, Tammy!

    • Reply Tammy Smith April 10, 2014 at 11:52 am

      We’re having a great time! Thank you for tagging along Adelle! :)

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