Let’s start off with a bit of real talk, I’m a professional photographer and I have images sitting on my computer that are far from perfect. And for a long time, I believed the lie that they had to be perfect to have meaning.
A couple months ago I was pulling images for a Father’s Day gift for my husband. I sat at my computer looking back on images over the past 2 years since we became parents. While I was a bit overwhelmed with the amount of images I had, I was more taken back at how many images I never touched, quickly dismissed for imperfections. They were unfocused, the lighting was off, the grain was too intense or I played the “if only I tried” game.
It’s interesting how time changes your perspective though. One image in particular, when my son was first finding his feet, had been sitting on my hard drive. When I first uploaded this image, I was heartbroken that the focus was soft and the image had more grain than I like. I questioned my ability and felt frustrated that I may not get that moment back.
Rather than seeing the beauty, I just saw imperfections.
But, here I am, just shy of 2 years later with an active and independent toddler, and I’m feeling all the feels. I mean, how precious are babies doing baby yoga and nibbling their toes, am I right? And friends, babies don’t keep! Imperfections and all, this image, among others, hold the memories of what matters most.
If you’re anything like me and find yourself nodding your head because you’ve been quick to hit the delete button, take a moment and remind yourself why you have your camera in your hand. For me, I believe that images bring depth to our past, give roots to our present and create a legacy for generations to come. They document our story, and provide a few laughs and “aawwws” down the road. Let’s be honest, I’m probably going to include this picture of him during his wedding slideshow!
Here are a few tips that have helped me tremendously over the past couple years as I’ve faced doubt. The next time you find yourself wanting to just put the camera away for awhile, I hope this can provide a bit of encouragement.
- The more you practice, the more confident you will become and the more you will grow: I forget who said it takes doing something for 10,000 hours to become an expert, but whoa! Find freedom in that, not pressure. We aren’t going to have ‘it’ figured out right away, and that’s okay. Let’s throw perfect out the window, and give ourselves the freedom and space to learn.
- Be intentional with your time when you’re shooting: Because I was so consumed with taking the perfect image, I found myself spending more time behind the camera than experiencing the moment. Or, I was trying to create the moment in perfect light and a perfect setting. Allow yourself a certain number of clicks, no matter their outcome, then put your camera down and allow yourself to be present in the moment. This goes for cell phone images too! Allow yourself to savor the memories you’re creating.
- Look to the moments of struggle as opportunities for growth: Rather than hit delete and move onto the next image, I began identifying what about the image I loved, and celebrated those as I defined my style as a photographer. Then, I looked to what wasn’t working and where I could improve. Using that list, I focused my energy on specific resources and education to grow as a photographer. And I still do this after every session!
- Be proud of where you’re at and how far you’ve come: Take a moment and look back on some of your first images, you’d probably be surprised how much you’ve grown! The image above and the one below are almost 2 years apart. I want you to take a moment today and celebrate all you’ve already learned and accomplished so far. You are amazing, right where you are, with what you have.
- Allow community to inspire you, not defeat you: Scrolling through social media these days can take us all down a long road of comparison. Remember we all started somewhere and not to compare yourself to someone who’s been in the field for awhile. Look to others for inspiration and guidance, allow that to propel you forward and not hold you back. You are exactly where you need to be, and I for one, am SO excited for you!
You are doing great friends, I mean it! I’m proud of you for picking up your camera and leaning into the discomfort of learning something new. What an amazing gift! Skimming through old photographs at my grandparents house, my heart overflowed seeing my grandparents wedding pictures, my mom as a baby, my aunts and uncles on vacations together as kids. This is why we have our camera in our hands, to continue sharing our hearts.
Hold tight to the memories friends, even the blurry ones.