by: Brooke Weidauer
Six years ago my college professor asked me a question that became my ah-ha moment. “What do you really want to do with your life, whether it be in the field of social work or not”. My reply, “I am not sure exactly what I want to do but I know this, I want to create.” Four years passed before stumbling upon photography and like many who are JSO (just starting out), I was obsessed. I think this obsession extended far beyond what’s considered healthy. I stayed up researching, googling, and critiquing my images late into the next morning. Does this sound dramatic? Because it was. It was intense. But, the world of photography brought me joy. When I began photographing clients this happiness intensified. I relished in creating a beautiful image, relished in seeing the client’s joy when they visually comprehended how deeply their family loved each other. I found joy when clients saw how beautiful they themselves truly were and I’m not talking about physical beauty alone. This brought me joy.
And then sadly this joy gradually molded into work. All work with just a pinch of joy. At times I literally prayed for rain to postpone a session or threw my camera in time-out, promising to not pick it up, ever. I had lost the joy and I knew it. I was going to go find it. I began by doing some soul-searching. I knew I was a perfectionist to my detriment. This was a good starting point. I continued to mentally note all of the things that were taking away from this joy and then I did something about it.
Here are a few things I learned along the way, beginning with my obsession with perfection.
Do not strive for other’s perception of perfection:
Pretty catchy title, eh? What is perfection anyway? It’s an insatiable concept. If we continually reach for “perfection” in our photography we will be left unsatisfied. Why’s that you ask? Because perfection is in the eye of it’s beholder, which is you of course. I believe with art, perfection is how we interpret it. Imperfections often translate as perfection. Understandably we hope others will appreciate our work but we ought to first love, nah, embrace our own work even if it’s not considered perfect by others.
Shoot just for fun and invite some friends:
When I am in a funk, a rut or simply losing the joy, I shoot for fun. I shoot for me. Whenever I photograph who, what, and where I want, I return home rejuvenated. Arrange a shoot where you are in control, where you choose the models and the props and invite some photographer friends. I promise you will feel refreshed and anew.
Don’t get too down on yourself:
I like to compare photography to a roller coaster ride. We need to expect that with the highs, we will experience lows. We can’t be too hard on ourselves; photography is a journey. Learning takes time and mistakes are our biggest ally. And after all, don’t most of us love roller coasters?
Continue to learn and try new things:
If you notice your joy in photography slipping, it may be a matter of boredom. Try OCF (off-camera flash), experiment with compositions, black and white conversions, or attend a workshop, anything to challenge and educate yourself.
Don’t neglect what matters most:
Meaning our relationships. Hours quickly pass while sitting at the computer. Discipline yourself to work x amount of hours a day and dedicate the remaining hours to your loved ones. Some may not have the luxury of limiting sessions but for those of you who can and who feel they are neglecting their relationships, do it.
Take the time to enjoy your work:
Often times we are either too busy or we simply forget to appreciate our work. Choose a time to sit back in your computer chair, rest your hands behind your head, pull up your past work and enjoy.
Remember why you started:
Like I said, for me it was about creating a beautiful image and also basking in the subject’s own joy. Think of why you became a photographer and then remind yourself of those reasons when you feel you’ve lost hold of the joy.
And now my friends if you are ready to throw in the towel, if you’re praying for rain, and your camera is sitting in time out then maybe it’s a good time to make your own mental notes and rediscover your joy.
Brooke Ashley Photography