In My Wheelhouse.

I first heard the term “In my wheelhouse” last year.

My good friend asked me to help him write a biography for a band he had created and was fronting, and I was waffling over whether it was something I could do or not. In my heart, I knew it, but it was like I knew it too well. He is one of my oldest friends and I believe in everything he has ever written and done. My heart knew it, because it was in my heart. If that makes sense. Then he said something that clinched it for me. He said, “I read your blog. This is totally within your wheelhouse.”

That day, that term stuck with me for good.

wedding photography (This photo will make sense in a theory.. if I don’t ramble too much)

It’s absolutely in my wheelhouse to use the term “in my wheelhouse.” I can’t get enough. Can you say “wheelhouse” so many times and write it twice as many, that it starts to look like nonsense to your tired eyes? That hasn’t happened to me yet.

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I can’t get enough of the term even now. A sponsored post about Carter’s clothes, when I haven’t been able to afford a back-to-school shopping spree ever, and now I get to do it and write about it? In my wheelhouse. Blogging in general? A place not locked into time nor space nor seeing you in person and having to get all jittery? In my wheelhouse. Submitting to an anthology about postpartum depression? Actually, not in my wheelhouse… but.. submitting to the HerStories Project’s upcoming anthology – “So Glad They Told Me”? In my wheelhouse. I found out last Sunday that I got accepted! I pretty much screamed and my heart went all pittery-pattery (happens sometimes) and there were happy tears and then suddenly I was in the Berkshires with my sister, and it was a happy, happy day. I had been dreaming about that book submission.

And then to celebrate it with this lovely lady.

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Not to mention it was the day after I worked for ten hours straight as a wedding photographer.

Is being a wedding photographer.. in my wheelhouse?

I never intended to be a wedding photographer, and I’m not one. I’m a photographer, who now does weddings. It started with one, but somehow it will be four. Will there be more? My background is abstract. It’s more fine arts. It started in darkrooms with long exposures and sepia-toned film. It started with confusion and darkness, and just the right amount of light for me.

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Then I had kids and learned the amazing and hilarious production of family and child photography. I added a few things along the line that seemed to work for me. Maternity? Yes. Newborns? Yes! Although I only do lifestyle newborn shoots, and not naked babies in baskets.. because.. poop and four hours and heat lamps and.. poop. What about real estate? Oddly, yes.

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Not everything works. Not everything is in my wheelhouse, at least not yet. Some things may be in there now but won’t stay forever. I don’t think I write fiction well. I don’t think I’m a good food photographer. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible, but it hasn’t been developed. It’s just not in my wheelhouse – maybe it won’t be ever. I was asked to do a wedding last year. I hesitated to say “yes” because of extreme nerves but it was a mellow barbecue type of wedding and they seemed to think that what they wanted from a photographer was something I could provide. Love and emotions and pretty things? Say yes.

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When I was asked to do two weddings this month, I said “yes” without much thought, but I was petrified. It was holding over my head. The thing is, I think it’s so very much in my wheelhouse. I think it’s so in my wheelhouse that it scares me. It’s like when I was in college and I had to give speeches in Japanese (no lie) in front of the class. It was oddly in my wheelhouse but I was so intent on proving it, that I’d freak out beforehand. I can thrive on being social and most of you see me that way, even in person. Even when I’m not hiding behind a computer screen. On the other hand, anxiety shuts me down. Like a full dead in the water, plug and unplug, reboot, blow on the cartridge, shake it out, dance it out, hug it out, see what happens.

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So of course, I fear that it might be just the wrong time on the wrong day or the wrong trigger. And will I not be able to do it? To do my job? I think it’s safe now. I thrive on the energy involved in being a part of a wedding. I thrive on knowing my part and doing it well, and realizing that nobody is asking me to cater a wedding, sing at a wedding, officiate a wedding, or even get married again. Those things don’t seem to be in my wheelhouse. And that’s ok. Knowing that there are some other things?

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That are already in my wheelhouse, or are least seem more possible to get there. And I can’t wait to see what comes next.

About Tamara

Tamara is a professional photographer, a mama of two, a Lifestyle Blogger/Social Media Influencer/Brand Ambassador, and a nearly professional cookie taster. She has been known to be all four of those things at all hours of the day and night. She is a very proud contributor to the book, The Mother Of All Meltdowns, the Stigma Fighters Anthology (volume 1), and The HerStories Project: So Glad They Told Me. She is also a proud Community Lead and a regular contributor to the SoFab Food blog, and the Target Made Me Do It blog. After two cross country moves, due to her intense Bi-Coastal Disorder, she lives with her husband, daughter, son, dog, cat, and 11 chickens in glorious western Massachusetts.


In My Wheelhouse. — 103 Comments

  1. You’re so good!!! You have beautiful photos all the time, totally in your wheelhouse! Sometimes I say yes without giving much thought too. Most of the time, it turns out well. And so happy that you got accept for another book! That’s awesome!

  2. Whenever I’m nervous about something but I think I can do it, I say yes. And then I figure out a way to do it. Public speaking was a big one for me. Never ever was that in my wheelhouse. And then I was asked and I did it, and discovered not only did I not mind it, I actually liked it. If the topic is something I am passionate about, it’s not difficult at all. (I do prep a lot though).

    Congrats on the book…very exciting! There is no doubt in my mind that you can do anything you set your mind to! And your photos are always amazing! Food photography will be in your wheelhouse as soon as you find a need to do it. πŸ™‚

    • That’s my plan! I say yes and then figure it all out. It’s amazing what we can do after committing to something.
      Whenever I think of food photography, I think of you!

  3. Aw, you my friend are amazing and yes you totally have a kick ass wheel house to match your perfectness. I am seriously so happy for you that all good things are happening to you and couldn’t be prouder of you. Love you and thank you again for just always being you <3

  4. I love your photos, so yes, I think you are a wedding photographer!

    I hear you on the anxiety though. It’s one reason why we didn’t attend the Air Force Ball this past weekend. It made me ridiculously nervous.

  5. My favorite expression, which is similar, is “row downstream.” All of us have gifts and talents, and when we use them, we feel great… the tasks (while still potentially challenging), feel like they “fit” us. Row downstream, Tamara. You have so many gifts in our wheelhouse. Maybe I’ll hire you when it comes time for my girls to get married. But be prepared, every time I throw a party, it rains:(

    • I love that expression!!
      Actually shooting a wedding in the rain would totally be something I’d WANT in my wheelhouse, but I guess not for the sake of the two families. I just need to know I can improvise if need be!

  6. OH how I love this… I have never heard of that expression before! SO much isn’t in my wheelhouse, and I absolutely FREAK at the thought of stepping into the unknown zone outside of my comfortable place. You are such an inspiration to me, because you seem to have the courage to take those bold steps into and THROUGH your fear…

    And LOOK at your wheelhouse expanding every day. (Did I use that term right?)

    SO excited about your book!! Can’t WAIT to read it!!

    • Honey, you said it perfectly! Wheelhouses can grow bigger! They start out as little shacks, maybe. Actually I picture an actual little wheel – like in a hamster cage! May our wheelhouses all expand into mansions.

    • I feel like we’re book twins and it’s SO awesome!
      I love that it’s about knowing things can be added or even taken out of your wheelhouse, even if you think they’re firmly in or out. That’s what I’ve been learning. Will be learning.

  7. You will (and have) rock the wedding photography thing Tamara! I read somewhere a great piece that we are all just making it up as we go along. So even those folks who seem to have it all or are so successful are also just treading on new water just as everyone else is. I think about that whenever I want to venture into a new thing, or if I start to doubt myself. At some point, you just take the plunge!

    • Thank you! I once read somewhere (maybe the same place!) that many of us feel like we’re frauds at times, and other people in our fields are more “real.” I’ve ALWAYS felt like that. I’m starting to change that thinking. And also to get out of that thinking, they say you can’t be in limbo – you have to be in motion.

  8. In baseball the wheelhouse refers to a pitch right where you can get it, where you can really get a hold of it and send it far. Thing is, you still need to swing. Wheelhouse means it’s there; it doesn’t mean it’s yours.

    And sometimes the swing and the miss teaches us more than the hit.

  9. Congratulations on your upcoming book! I had never heard of in my wheelhouse before. But now I probably will and I will always remember I heard it here first. I do not know how you manage the two wedding shoots and your blog and now a book – good job!

    • Thank you!! I’ve spent my life looking at other people and thinking that of them. That people are lucky to know how to sing or dance, or sing AND dance. Or my ex who could take photos, write, play music and be ridiculously good-looking. So unfair.
      I’m learning we all have our gifts and we have to be open to more too. Or to know how to let things go when they don’t work. Bah.

  10. Yes doing wedding photography and photography in general IS totally in your wheelhouse! My Dad always used to say “In my wheelhouse”. I think it’s interesting how your wheelhouse grows and changes over time as you do. That is what is great about life, there is no end of leaning and adding to your wheelhouse!

    • I love that your dad said it. And I love learning that what we thought wasn’t in our wheelhouse could be there. Or something we thought was there, really isn’t. It’s all fascinating!

  11. I find things are in my wheelhouse that I would have never expected, like blogging & writing….and getting paid to write! Congrats on the book, by the way, yay! It’s funny that you mention lifestyle newborn photography because just the other day I was thinking that the next time i have a baby I want to have you do our newborn photography. But that won’t be for at least a couple years — hopefully πŸ˜‰

    • I’m so with you! I never knew I’d get paid to write, and be in books!
      I’ll be so ready in a few years to meet cutest baby ever #2. Unless you want those Anne Geddes-style newborn shots, in which case, not in my wheelhouse!

  12. You certainly are making significant inroads in your quest for self-actualization!

    Being an artist before anything else, I enjoy photography. The ability to put a frame around something and making it accessible for others to see is a gift.

    I’ve never used the term wheelhouse. Lately with my martial arts training I think of being in the pocket. That area where you can easily reach and hit your opponent. Of course they have the same opportunity then also. At least the wheel doesn’t hit back.

    • I like the pocket term!
      I first learned about self-actualization when I was 16, and I honestly thought I was so close then. Now I realize I never really was and I guess I’m still not, but we never are? Just more so, bit by bit. Anyway, I loved hearing that term again so thank you.

  13. Beautiful photos! Love the first one of your sister and BIL kissing under the heart. And the night time skyline. I just learned of the term “wheelhouse” too. You are definitely doing yours :).

  14. Loved this Tamara! Yes and yes, all of those things are definitely in your wheelhouse, and they shine through in your blog. I wish we lived closer so you could do my son’s senior pictures. I so want to capture that “on the verge of the rest of his life” look – which I think would be in your wheelhouse! I’m still trying to figure out what’s in mine, which is both sad and exciting at the same time.

    • I would love that. I’ve actually never done senior pictures, so I’m not sure they’re “in my wheelhouse” or not. I’m going to hazard a guess that they ARE in my wheelhouse.

    • Thank you! It’s also fun to pull photos together for a post like this. I hope to use more recent ones in blog posts too, with the brides’ permissions, of course!

  15. In my wheelhouse is simultaneous translation (French to English) if I know the subject matter, cooking, and writing a variety of things. I can still be nervous and anxious though – maybe to prove myself? – like you when giving a speech in Japanese. πŸ™‚

  16. Oh I love this term, Tamara! I’ve actually never heard it before, but it’s kind of the same as “that’s my jam!”, I can’t wait to start using it!:-) p.s. i think you’d be GREAT at writing fiction, just saying!;-)

    • Yes! Just like “That’s my jam.” They’re all pretty awesome.
      Thanks about fiction! I took a creative writing class in college and I got a good grade and people responded well, but I thought I was like ten years behind. I couldn’t get dark enough for my classmates, apparently. I live in a Disney bubble in fiction, I guess, because my non-fiction is plenty gritty!

  17. I like that word.
    You’re very talented at what you do Tamara. Truly. It takes talent to capture beautiful pictures but it takes a gifted eye to be able to capture the essence and spirit of that moment. You capture the soul and feelings — it emanates from smiles and eyes in your pictures. Just beautiful. Always.
    Congrats on your book. I can’t wait to read it!!

    • Sometimes I get bogged down by the technical stuff. I have to remember that and catch myself. I think clients would rather have a technically imperfect photo that shows an amazing moment, than a technically perfect photo of something bland. I guess the ideal is to have both!
      Thanks for the reminder, though. It’s about the essence and spirit.

  18. I think that you my friend can do ANYTHING and it will always be perfect. You are always within your element and once you set your mind to do something it comes out flawless. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you do anything half-ass so I know you’re always in your wheelhouse. btw I might need you to photograph my next wedding. πŸ™‚

  19. I love that! Your photos are amazing – I’m a fairly new reader and I have to say, you’re living the life I would want day one to live. If your passion is your job, even better, and someone with talent like you will grow from small to great. I know it!

    • I appreciate that so much! I definitely am getting closer to a better balance. Sometimes (mostly) I let my fears and insecurities rule my life, but I’m taking bigger steps to fighting it.

  20. Congrats on your anthology essay publication! Can’t wait to read these essays. Your photography and snapshots are always so exceptional, Tamara. I hope you claim it because it is well-deserved. xo

  21. It’s so funny how talented we all know you are, but once you see that you will blind us all with your bright light. A part of me wants to get married all over again, just so you can take my pictures. I’ve totally said that before. πŸ™‚

  22. well beautiful photos are certainly in your wheelhouse. and so is touching other’s people hearts; clearly.
    now I will be spending the rest of the week asking myself, what’s in MY wheelhouse. this journey truly goes ever onward.

  23. Beautiful Photos!! Just looking at those photos made me feel like I was there celebrating with them.
    I’m like Rorybore.. I think I know what’s in my wheelhouse but I need to take a close look and do some reflecting to see if that’s what I want in my wheelhouse.

    • I so hear that. I think I realize every now and then that something new is in there, and has always been, but I haven’t recognized it.
      And yet something else doesn’t belong in there.

  24. This is absolutely your wheelhouse – all of this. Congrats on the anthology!! That is amazing and I can’t wait to read your beautiful writing there. I have to admit though – it’s not my favorite phase, mostly because I hear it all.the.time. related to my consulting work and so much of consultant speak is mumbo jumbo! πŸ™‚

  25. I only heard that term recently, too. I think that the secret to growing is to try things that aren’t in your wheelhouse, and then maybe they will be. It’s scary, though.

    So happy for all the good things happening for you, Tamara.

  26. I know, from own experience, that it can feel tough to be a Jill-of-all-trades, but you know what? If that is you, it is you. And we all keep on learning and developing more skills. Growth takes place in many different ways. Continue doing what’s in your wheelhouse (love that word!) and then, when you are ready you’ll stretch a little out of it and may find there is something else that may become part of it, too.

    • It’s a cool word! I totally think it’s fascinating discovering what’s been there since birth, and just needs nurturing, and what’s new in there. And what’s too old in there and not really relevant anymore.

  27. Congratulations!!! That’s so exciting that you got accepted πŸ™‚ I love the photos you took of your sister and her husband. You’re great at capturing love, so weddings should be right up your alley.

  28. I love the expression ‘in my wheelhouse’! Love it! The saying is in my wheelhouse too! It’s a snug saying. It’s like a hug to yourself for something you’re good at!

    Congratulations on the book! Your book list is growing, that must be an amazing feeling!

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