Being that I am constantly having to put what I do for money out in front of people to be judged, and because I am a perfectionist, I tend to heap criticism onto myself with a very large shovel, on a regular basis. And a critical word from someone else? Yeah, that lives with me for decades. It is not easy to put yourself into your work and have it out in the world…..especially, when you improve, and want nothing more than to go back redo everything you did incorrectly. And reading my old writing? Forget about it. Who was that person?? Still, though, I can’t help but wonder what great opportunities would have been missed if I hadn’t taken a shot at all of the things I have done over the years. I started photography out of necessity, not skill. There was something very important in our lives that needed paid for, at the time. I didn’t search for my first clients, they were brought to me, and I was terrified every minute of those sessions. And my work? It was horrible. Absolutely terrible. But my clients didn’t hate them, and didn’t request a refund, and it helped pay for the things that needed paid for, so I kept on. I kept on, sort of. It was a lot of anxiety, and a lot of terror, and a lot of worrying about my crappy camera, and my gaps in knowledge. There were a lot of freak outs. I got a not so kind email from another local photographer that almost had me calling it quits. Then I got a call from a family that wanted a session for their dad that was on hospice. They had seen a flier that I put up advertising free hospice sessions for people that needed them. That kept my camera in my hands another day. I was really terrified to shoot that session. If I messed it up, there were no second chances. I wished I knew someone better that could do it. But I went anyway. The images are…….well, the content is beautiful but they are a technical mess. But I don’t really think the family was judging my composition as harshly as I was. I have no clue what keeps pushing my timid, little soul into situations that are clearly over my head and above my pay grade. Probably more optimism and stupidity than bravery or confidence. I have fallen flat on my face many times, chasing after things that were way out of my reach….and yet, the next week, I am back scheming and planning again. Looking back, I guess I am thankful that I am so stubborn. It has brought me to many great experiences. Still, it is so hard to remember that when faced with new challenges, or even when looking at what I am in the middle of. I want to do a photo shoot for a charity that I think does amazing work, but I balk at writing the email. – What if they look at my website and think I suck? Can I do it with the equipment I have? I should wait. I’m sure they have someone better. I agonize. I want to start doing some video projects. – I can’t possibly do this. I don’t have anywhere near the equipment I need. I don’t know anything about video. It takes a certain eye for storytelling. I don’t have it. I pick myself apart. I was approached by someone asking for my help in writing something that is very important to them. My immediate reaction? Why me? Surely there are more qualified people for this project. I can’t even use commas properly.
But still, I heard myself saying, “Of course I’ll help. Just let me know what you need me to do.” Thank goodness for that crazy stubborn optimism. Ha.
Over the years, it has allowed me to photograph a marine seeing his baby for the first time, with a camera that was nowhere near as good as their family camera. It has allowed me to photograph an album cover for a friend’s EP, with a camera only slightly less crappy, and a lens with serious focus issues that I could not afford to get fixed. It has allowed me to photograph the brave women that offered up parts of themselves for Notes Girls Write. It has allowed me to photograph so many awesome families, and watch their children grow. Even when I wanted to run to my car, during one session, when the dad said I was brave for showing up to shoot a whole session with nothing but a 50mm lens. But it was all I had. Sometimes you just have to use what you have. You just make that shit work, because it would kill you more to give up. This sounds very wise, right? Like I have been giving my life and my purpose a lot of deep thought. Actually, while I was torturing myself about saying yes to helping with the writing project because of my lack of skills, I saw a picture of Charlie brushing his hair with a toothbrush*. He actually does it a lot. And no matter how many times he is told that is not what you use for brushing hair, he just looks at it, and then back at you, like…”Why? It’s got bristles…It’s called a brush…..It works.”……and keeps brushing, and you can’t really argue with that. It may take longer and it may be a bit messier, but it works. Stubborn optimism, baby. You are welcome.
So, I am picking up my damn toothbrush. I sent the email to the charity. I said yes to the writing project, that I don’t feel qualified for. I approached subjects for my video projects. I am getting ready to book my fall sessions. Maybe someday I will have all of the fancy brushes I want, and all of the skills to use them, but for now, my little toothbrush and I have work to do.
(I totally wrote a whole blog post around a shady toothbrush analogy. Who else wants my help for writing projects? Ha!)
*The toothbrush Charlie brushes his hair with is not the same toothbrush that he brushes his teeth with. That would be gross.
I hate to ruin my amazing toothbrush analogy (ha), but maybe Charlie could use an actual hair brush, every now and then. 🙂