We were lucky to catch up with Sarah Delanie Langer recently and have shared our conversation below.
Sarah Delanie, appreciate you joining us today. Can you open up about a risk you’ve taken – what it was like taking that risk, why you took the risk and how it turned out?
My father taught me at a young age the importance of taking “calculated risks” in life, and it’s a principle I’ve learned to integrate into my decision-making skills over time. But, the first and most likely forever the most significant risk I’ve ever taken was deciding to put my business on pause indefinitely, sell all of the belongings and walk 500 miles from the border of France to the Coast of Spain on a pilgrimage that dates back to the 8th century called The Santiago de Camino. Having started my business at the age of 12, building its brand through high school, and scaling it in college, I found myself at a roadblock. I wasn’t proud of nor was I enjoying the work I was creating, and quickly realized in the hustle and bustle of managing school, business, and life that I had lost who I was as an artist in the midst of it all. I had thought that maybe a year after graduating college and letting my life calm down a bit I would have found my footing. A year came and went, and my spirit was still unsettled. Something wasn’t right, but I wasn’t sure what it was. All I knew was that it was time for me to take a step back from everything I had built and held onto so tightly, and walk. I always knew I would walk the Camino one day, but truthfully didn’t think I’d have the guts to do it until I was older. After a long frustrating day, I realized that no one was going to change my circumstances except for myself, and decide to take a leap of faith. Months of preparation and training followed until the day I hoped on a plane with a good friend of mine and left it all behind not knowing what the future would hold, but boy was I in for a surprise. Over the course of a month and a half, I walked with nothing but the backpack handing on my shoulders for miles on end, meeting souls from all over the world who all brought something so distinct and powerful into my life, even if I only walked with them for a short time. It was like every tightly tangled rope of anxiety restricting blood flow to my thought life was undone. I found peace, clarity, and a relationship with God I had never experienced before. When I arrived at the end of the pilgrimage I realized that I was actually only beginning, except this time with feet grounded, eyes fixed on what was most important, and a heart set free from the anxieties of life that so easily creep into the sacred spaces we need to create meaningful art. Coming back into my work from the Camino full-time was not smooth sailing, but the sweetest part of it all was that I didn’t need it to be. Life is full of so many unexpected turns, and when we let ourselves lean into those unexpected nuances of ordinary life, that’s when suddenly the most mundane seasons become extraordinary. While it looks much different than I ever expected it to, I’m grateful to be running my business full-time again today. I am forever grateful for the “calculated risk” of letting go of it for a time, so I could enjoy and appreciate it far more than I ever would have otherwise.
Sarah Delanie, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
Delanie & Co. first began as a photography business I launched at the age of 12 called “Sarah Delanie Photography!” I started out photographing families, high school seniors, newborns and eventually found myself shooting weddings. I dabbled in product photography freelancing for a few marketing and advertising agencies through college as I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications. After graduation, I specialized in weddings before I took an indefinite sabbatical from my work. Plot twist! I spent roughly two years traveling and living in Europe, met my now-husband, worked in the nonprofit sector for a bit, and eventually found my way back to entrepreneurship. When it runs in your veins, it’s hard to ignore it! I transitioned Sarah Delanie Photography into Delanie & Co. to give me the margin to not only shoot weddings, and families, but to also offer video/brand content creation for local businesses while also freelancing as a multimedia journalist for a local magazine. There is nothing I love more than helping others share and preserve their stories by documenting “history” through fine art photography, video, or writing. It’s never lost on me what a privilege it is to be able to create!
Any resources you can share with us that might be helpful to other creatives?
The power of community! I started my business on the brink of Facebook Business Pages and Instagram, so I knew word-of-mouth marketing was powerful, but there is something so amazing about taking that a step further. Go volunteer your time at a local nonprofit, message that businesses owner who inspires you and invite them to coffee, have people over for a meal, and share stories over a dining room table. Invite people into your life. There is nothing more impactful for your personal growth and the success of your business than fostering genuine relationships. I’m not talking about slimy networking events where you’re looking to see who can actually help you scale your business, I’m talking about genuine friendship and camaraderie as you navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.
Is there a particular goal or mission driving your creative journey?
“Caring for stories through the photographic documentation of family history” is the driving force behind my creative journey. I love journalism, and if every day new reporters are looking to document the history of the world happening around us 24/4, why not invest that kind of energy into preserving the history of our families and local businesses?
- Website: https://delanieandco.com
- Instagram: @delanieandco
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/delanieco
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-langer-84697b11b/
Image of me was taken by Amanda Marie Lackey. All fo the wedding images are taking by Delanie & Co.