Every single time I walk into a session I feel scared.
I’ve been a photographer for 9 years. When I first started and had no idea what I was doing and yet I seemingly was far more confident about walking into anywhere and photographing what was in front of me because it was about exploration and adventure to see what I COULD do. Now that I am far deeper into my craft and have a bit of a “formula” and have client expectations but also have a good deal of expectations for myself I feel myself pulling away from the shots that are weird and break all the rules because I know better now. I know the rules, I know what good light is, I know how to pose & I know how to create a technically sound image.
But I’m not interested in creating perfect imagery. I think that having a deep sense of community in my industry has been incredible but it also takes a toll on you when you’re creating imagery along side so many other talents. Sometimes it gets in my head that perfect imagery is what is required to be considered a professional. But I’m interested in creating emotive imagery that tells the truth about who people are in that moment. I’m interested in creating imagery that makes me tear up when I see it because I know that that image is honest. I have been sitting at my desk all morning working on editing some galleries while watching some videos that Yan Palmer put out and I found myself crying because this is the imagery I *feel* is true to who I am and it’s the imagery I strive to create.
But you know what else is true to who I am right now? I am at a point in life where I feel deeply ready and also absolutely unprepared to start a family of my own. Where my partner and I are in life right now means we need to wait for awhile and sometimes I feel so desperate in my desire for it that I can’t feel the hope for it. It eats at me far more than I’d like to admit. I think about it so often, especially since we moved into a house that has filled me with this dreamy sense of home and gratitude for a home. And I am at a point where I want so desperately to be creating imagery of my OWN family as well that I feel insecure about photographing others, as if the envy I sometimes feel around that family love will somehow take over and trample all over everything. This isn’t actually the case. The moment I’m photographing a family the only thing I can think of is their love for each other. But it’s obvious that my fear in this is creating some distance, some fear, & potentially causing me to (as Brene Brown puts it) armor up before picking up my camera so I am diligently trying my absolute hardest to soften my internal monologue in these moments and find my why in an even stronger way.
The thing that no one tells you when you’re starting a career in emotive portraiture is that you have to really be in tune with your feelings or completely allow yourself to disconnect from your own feelings to see the feelings of others in front of you. I’m not a person that can disconnect. I just am not. I feel something ALWAYS and often times want to explore whatever it is that I am feeling. One of the reasons I love photography so much is because I am able to have a deep conversation with someone and it’s my lens that I’m doing the listening with. I can get to know someone in an intimate way and create a relationship that is deep and beautiful even if it’s just in that moment.
As I look at the week I have ahead of me I know that I have two emotive sessions on my plate that I need to allow myself to armor down for. Yes. Armor down. The great Brene talks a lot about strengthening your spine so you don’t need to wear the armor. The armor tucks your heart away and doesn’t allow for vulnerability because you’re going into something with an idea of protection. You are creating a boundary between yourself and another person when it’s often a moment where you need to find your strength in your vulnerability to ensure that you are connecting with someone in an honest way.
I am photographing one of my favorite videographer couples tomorrow and I am so excited to create with them. I am also photographing an old friend who is going through some pretty major life changes right now. She and I had a beautiful conversation a few weeks ago about what she is going through and she told me that she was creating a tangible boundary between herself and anyone that she loves and that she needs to release that. So we are creating imagery around it. Releasing the armor. Releasing the protection. Protecting myself with a strong spine and an open heart rather than armor that doesn’t my vulnerability strength. Finding my why every single time I pick up my camera & finding my gratitude in it all.