Rewind: 7th grade.
Who wants to rewind to insecurity, brace-face, and playing the people-pleasing game? But I learned something really, really important in 7th grade.
See, one day I was bored with everything in my closet (not much has changed in that department, oy) and wanted to make something new and snazzy to impress all my peeps at school.
A couple of old pairs of jeans were cut up and sloppily hand-sewn together into a creation we all called The Jean Scarf. ‘We’ being my horrified best friend who refused to be seen with me that day, and my parents and brothers who have not let me live it down TO THIS DAY.
The Scarf only lasted in public one day, and I was too humiliated to even wear it through the whole school day, even though I secretly believed The Scarf was the hottest thing ever and a sick fashion statement to boot. I kept The Jean Scarf in a box for a long time, pulling it out every now and again and sporting it in the privacy of my bedroom, practicing modeling poses in the mirror. I loved that thing.
Here’s part two. Jean scarves are apparently the next big thing, popping up all over etsy , even making an appearance on J.Crew’s company Madewell. What? No way. WAY. (That was the conversation I had inside when I realized this.)
It’s been a long time since 7th grade, though. A long time when jean scarves absolutely weren’t the next big thing. There’s been a lot of teasing around my parents’ dinner table, some nervous-giggle reminiscing over the phone with that best friend (who somehow found it in her heart to still be nice to me after the Scarf). And I have to be real and say that I’m a sensitive soul and sometimes those jests might have pricked me a bit. Even if I was in 7th grade. Even if I pretended I didn’t care. Even if I do agree, now, that The Jean Scarf was horrendously hideous.
Creativity is about being unapologetic for your ideas, about going ahead when the 7th grade thugs are laughing you to scorn down the fluorescent-lit hallway and you want to curl up in shame.
You can’t wait 10 or 20 years for the world to catch up with your vision–you have to own it RIGHT THEN. RIGHT IN THE MOMENT. And that is one of the scariest things I have ever done.
If no one thinks my work is horrible, ugly, and/or weird, I’m not doing it right.
Being boring is one of my worst fears.
I’m not one for cheesy quotes, but I love this one by Marilyn Monroe.
My job is to create beauty with what is, to capture love and relationships in the most authentic, organic way. No heartless poses, meaningless props. And this leaves us with pretty raw material to work with–in which we (my clients included) take some pretty scary risks. I make mistakes. I try things that fail miserably.
But what I learned in 7th grade still sticks: Keep on trying to match reality to the lovely visions of beauty and innovation inside your head. Keep pushing through even if no one responds. Even if there is silence or hatin’, you gotta keep moving on and own up to what you knew before you did that crazy angle/edgy styled shoot/new edit: that you are good enough, and that your opinion matters. In fact, as an artist, it’s the only opinion that does.
Don’t apologize for what you think is beautiful; the right people will be attracted to your vision. The rest will find someone else.
We have to learn to be okay with that, whether as photographers or artists or just humans trying to find connection.
I actually want potential clients to see enough of me and my work to know whether or not I fit with them. And if I don’t, that is just fine! I want people to have enough information that they can say, “Yeah, I just don’t like her style. It’s not me.” If they know our personalities wouldn’t mix and they just can’t stomach the idea of getting a little vulnerable with me, I do not want them to book me. Some people are burying their heads in their hands right now and their marketing hearts are breaking a little bit because I’m turning down potential business?!
I firmly believe that repelling is just as important as attracting–as odd as that sounds. If no one thinks my work is silly or that I am too crazy I’m not doing my job; I’m not showing enough of who I am to be able to help potential clients make an educated decision about whether or not I’m right for them. I’m passionate not just about taking great photographs, but in giving clients a wholehearted experience in our session. This means letting them in on who I am, creating a relationship of trust, and giving them permission to be vulnerable and show me what they’re all about and how they love.
I hope this helps! Here’s to joyful weekend full of risky creativity!
And if you want to find out if I’m the right photographer for you, click here.