I have had some very interesting conversations this past week with some photographers that I admire and respect, and I was shocked to hear what they were saying! They were talking about how they couldn't get their images to look JUST right, there was something missing in them, and they couldn't figure out how to put that magic in. Then they went on to say that they had taken a few workshops and that has helped them, but they can't seem to make their images have that same magic as their favourite popular photographers do. Essentially they were frustrated with their images not looking as great as their teachers' and their favourites and they couldn't figure out why!
Is this something that sounds familiar? It does to me, I have had this frustration myself as well! But I have come to a realization in the past couple of months of introspection and I want to share with you my views on this and help you to stop standing in your own way. Allowing you to cross over that bridge into your OWN greatness. Finding your OWN magic.
1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others - Like a broken record, we hear this all the time. And I can post that quote by Theodore Roosevelt about comparison being the thief of joy, but what does this statement REALLY mean? Why must we stop comparing ourselves to others?
I was at a talk with a pretty awesome photographer at a convention last year and she said some very interesting things that helped me to understand why we should stop this constant comparison. She is a very popular photographer and many people try to imitate her style. Heck, even I thought the answer to my own greatness was to eventually drop the cash for one of her classes and then I could be amazing too! She showed me how wrong I was when she explained her vision and her own inspiration behind her images, about how they are stemmed from how she was raised (in a completely different environment than me) and how although she and I had a similar view of the world, she had her own view and I had mine.
It was in this talk that I realized the difference between inspiration and comparison.
Be INSPIRED by the greats you love, but never compare yourself to them or try to be like them. Their work is their own story, their own heart and soul. Allow your heart and soul a voice in your images. I truly believe when you do that you will see that spark of magic you may be missing in your images.
This is an image I took after watching this photographer shoot. I can see the inspiration she gave me, but I can still see a WHOLE lotta Reina in here too... namely that I would pick a beautiful back alley to shoot in, as well as my editing style. (edited with Simply Artiste)
2. Don't Let Fear Hold You Back - This past couple of years has been a BIG lesson on fear. I moved across country to a new city where I had NO network and tried to work full time as a newborn photographer. Boy was that scary. Guess what? I did it! And I succeeded!! I definitely needed support (my husband is amazing) but I saw an opportunity to stop making excuses and to stand up and make my dreams MINE and I did not let fear stand in my way!. Another lesson on not letting fear stop you was contacting Liberty Kifer to be a tester for her Lightroom presets over at Silky Presets. I normally would have talked myself out of contacting her, but I had just moved across country and I was feeling cocky LOL. And here I am now, because of that one moment of fearlessness, with an actions company and an amazing community of testers and customers! But most importantly, working with Liberty and then working on my own to develop actions I finally found my editing style, all because I pushed myself to be greater at something then I was, regardless of how scary.
I entered into this session with no vision, no idea on what I was going to do to push past what I normally do. But I let go of that fear of not having a plan and I allowed the session to flow. And it flowed into this image. One I am truly proud of! (edited with Simply Artiste)
Fear is going to be your companion on this journey as an artist and photographer. Realize this, understand it, but never let it hold you back.
3. Progress Means Walking Your OWN Path - Workshops are meant to teach you technique not style. Take your share of workshops, I am a HUGE advocate of learning all you can about your craft from more experienced photographers and teachers, and investing in that learning. Do not expect to come out of those classrooms, be they online or in person, with a "style." You may be influenced by your teacher, and fully capable of imitating their style, but your learning doesn't stop when the workshop is over.
A Workshop should be a spring board, and walking out of one should only be your first step to greatness, it is not the final ingredient. Many people feel like ALL they need is to see someone work and then they will be amazing. Unfortunately this is not how it works, and why we get so frustrated sometimes.
This image was taken after a workshop with Candice Zugich of The Blissful Maven. I learnt the lighting technique from her, and the freedom in letting unposed moments unfold. But this image has me all over it. It has my editing style, it has my love for the tiny sweetness of this little girl and the beautiful love that her mother had for her. (edited with ACR Preset Magic 2 from The Magic Look and True and Deep from Simply Dream (PS Actions) at 70% and 45% respectively)
If you have taken workshops and learned your technique you can stop looking elsewhere for guidance and start to look within. What is your why, what is your vision. You will find some amazingly beautiful photographs sit right there in your mind and your heart, just waiting for you to stop looking elsewhere for inspiration. And you will be amazed at what happens when you create something from your heart.
Think of the first person who started to shoot for the shadow instead of the light, or the first person who put down the big chunky flower head band and picked up a thin dainty organic tieback for their newborn shoot. Or think of the person who opened up their aperture and found beautiful bokeh. I personally have NO CLUE who these people are, but they have influenced my photography, because they stopped doing what everyone else was doing, and tried something new, something that helped them convey their why, their vision. This is what I am saying you are capable of! Maybe it won't translate to a gazillion likes on Facebook, but it really could create growth and change, if not in the whole industry, definitely in your own work!
This is my most recent image, most recently edited, most recently shot. I see my mentors in this: Lisa from The Milky Way with her Illuminate and Beyond the Beanbag online courses, Rachel Vanoven with her Newborn eWorkshop, and Amy McDaniel of Dewdrops Photography with her in person workshop. But I also see me. I see me in the way I edit, in the colours I chose and in the connection I built with this baby and her parents throughout the session. I see my heart and my intention to make this child realize the incredible love and excitement her parents had in having her that they hired someone to capture her at this age. (edited with ACR Preset Bliss 5 from The Clean Look and Intensity from Simply Dream (PS Actions) at 35%)
A great example of innovation... taking the Cake Smash to somewhere completely new!!
Thank you to Jenna from Jenna Rae Photography! She is a fellow Illuminate Alumni, and this is a perfect example of going your own way and it being awesome!