What Success Means to Me

Hannah Q Photography

If you asked my 21-year-old self to define success, here is what she would say:

  • A six-figure income

  • Manger/Leader/CEO of _______.

  • Consistent awards + accolades

  • Being the top performer

  • Having the financial freedom to buy anything I want whenever I want

If you’re looking at this list and you’re thinking, Hey, that’s my success list, then that is wonderful.  If it’s nothing like your success list then that is also so wonderful. 

Pre-photography career, I achieved these ‘wins’ only to find myself conflicted by a work life that felt so meaningless, uninspiring, and lackluster.  It wasn’t until I started my business in 2016 that I realized the gravity of my mistake.  This wasn’t my definition of success, it was society’s definition.  I misidentified success as the key to happiness rather than identifying happiness as the key to success. 

If you asked me today to re-define the term, here is what I’d say:

  • Having the creative freedom to create whatever I want however I want to

  • Being a part-business woman and part-time mom

  • Inspiring and lifting others

  • Being able to work in my PJs

  • Being authentic and true to myself

  • The freedom and flexibility to stay home and care for my daughter

  • Traveling to new places

  • Having the time to read books

  • Sending my husband off with breakfast + a hot cup of coffee

As I redefined my barometer of success and pursued my passions in wedding photography, my work life has been guided by pure perseverance and genuine happiness.  I work harder, longer, stronger, and more effectively than I ever did before.  Every move I make is with intention and purpose.  And I celebrate each and every win.  

Your life is your masterpiece.  Don’t let anyone program your happiness.  Define success on your own terms. 

“One day, I set fire to everything I thought I was and began to learn who I was.”


comments +

  1. Adriana says:

    Really love this Hannah, thanks for sharing. Sometimes my husband and I wonder if we should care more about nice things and making more money… then we start planning our next trip lol. Freedom to live life as you wish to is everything. Love your work by the way.

    • Hannah Quintana says:

      Hi Adriana,

      I learned that so many of us feel the same way. I feel like it’s normal and very human-like to gravitate towards the "nicer things" in life. And don’t get me wrong, those luxury things WOULD be nice. But at the end of the day, those are things that could only bring so much temporary happiness. The things that matter to me most are my family so the fact that I can make the time to be with them is everything to me. Thank you so much for your kind words and love <3

  2. Jonathan Kim says:

    This is a must read by all! I completely agree with you 100% — success is defined only by YOU! We need to stop caring what others think. It’ll be an endless cycle of always trying to measure up to the "next" thing…

    • Hannah Quintana says:

      Thank youuuuuu. It’s so true which is why I was so compelled to write a blog about it. I think so many people feel the same way but just don’t realize it yet!

  3. Belinda Jiao says:

    I love your attitude Hannah, and thanks for showing me that it is possible to pursue photography while living the lifestyle that you wanted. This is truly empowering.

    • Hannah Quintana says:

      Hi Belinda! Thank you so much for saying that. And it means so much to me that you were able to take something away from this blog!

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