I’ve been taking photographs for many years now.
I upped my game in 2008 when I bought a half way decent point and shoot camera.
I then took it a step further when I bought my first DSLR back in 2010 and really began taking pictures.
Then I started learning about composition, f/stops, iso and white balance.
Then I started getting private lessons from photographers that I knew and participating in photo challenges.
Then people started paying me to take pictures of their events, their portraits and their movement.
Then I started taking classes on Lynda.com, CreativeLive.com, purchasing books and attending workshops like Blographer.
Then I started learning photoshop, and creative editing, and how to create a more stylized shoot.
Then I started playing around with concepts infusing what I know of theater, art and scenography to work towards my unique style of photography.
Then I joined photography groups, started building a team for the photography side of my business and worked as a photography assistant on things like weddings, music videoshoots, baber battles, and jewelry marketing campaigns.
Then I started informally teaching others about photography. My friends ask me what camera to buy. I fix the settings on friend’s cameras at parties when there’s only low light, so they don’t have to use flash. I send links to helpful websites and also give hands on mini lessons on composition, lighting, focus and a creative eye.
Then I noticed my photography clients were using my images on their business cards, websites and marketing materials.
I have thousands of pictures. I have photo shoots I’ve forgetten about because the sheer volume of images I’ve taken have exceeded my memory.
…….And yet…… for years I could never bring myself to say, “I am a photographer.”
Saying “I’m a photographer” meant I’d have to own up to my mistakes, own up to growth, own up to criticism, own up to getting better, own up to what I didn’t know. Saying I’m a photographer meant, I’d have to take it to the next level. No more complacency. This isn’t just a hobby. Because that’s what I’d say. “Oh, I’m not a photographer. I just take images so I have stock photos for my blog.” Even though I had PAYING clients. Even though I had concepts for shoots and a stylist willing to work with me. Even though I had photographers asking me to be their assistant on major gigs.
I’ve outgrown my fear though. it no longer fits. now I find it suffocating. so I’ve shed it.
I called one of my photographer friends to tell him about some awesome workshops I had attended, “There was a wedding photography workshop and they mocked an entire wedding and now I see. I see the workflow and learned more techniques for getting what I need. Now I want to shoot a wedding again. And there was a boudoir photography workshop and I learned so much about posing now. I have all these ideas. And this one lady she was saying to pick your three words that serve as the overall theme of your shoot, so when you get lost or don’t have an idea, go back to your words for focus and inspiration. So I want to try out some new stuff. Oh and I need to get a fig rig and I want to take your steadicam workshop and I have a photoshoot lined up…… you know what it is…… I’m not afraid anymore.”
I could sense his smile through the phone. “That’s good,” he said.
It used to be when someone would critique my photography, I’d listen and learn but in the back of my head I gave myself a pass. “That was great advice. I’ll learn from it but I’m not a photographer so…you know.”
The other day I showed an artist friend of mine a couple samples images from a recent shot.
“Who styled it,” he asked of two photos.
“The model and I. It was a combo of both our jewelry and costumes,” I said. He nodded.
I showed him the next photo.
“That one doesn’t do anything for me,” he said.
“It doesn’t have to,” I mumbled under my breath. (That’s actually bullshit.)
Maybe he noticed my defensiveness.
“What I mean is, there isn’t enough information in that photograph. The others that you showed me. I liked the styling. There’s something going on. It’s a story. The one you just showed me, its just a shoe and her clothes and its not saying anything. I don’t like it or dislike it. It’s just neutral,” he explained.
I looked at both images again. “You’re right. I don’t want to just pose my models. I want there to be body language. I want to show the story of their bodies,” I said. He nodded.
Pushing myself further, learning from my mistakes, trying out new concepts, possibly failing horribly, possibly discovering a beauty beyond description….my curisiosity and my desire to grow and evolve, it means more to me than my fear at this point.
Who are you? What is your fear preventing you from doing and being? What’s the truth of your fear? My truth was that I didn’t want the responsibility that came with the ownership of who I really am. What about you? Is that fear serving your divine purpose or placating your complacent approach to life?
Fear is normal. It’s an emotion all humans experience at one point. Letting that fear prevent you from your calling or desire, now that’s absurd and frankly it’s a cowards approach to life. I want to be bold, courageous and brave of heart.
I wish for you a transformative, wholistic and sensual existence. Have a great day.
Sheena LaShay is a Wild Magical Woman and artist that seeks to inspire everyone to live an authentic and powerful life. You can also find Sheena at www.SheenaLaShay.com.
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