Anxious? Doubting yourself? Feeling overwhelmed? Here are three words that literally gave me that “ah-ha” moment- WORK THE PROBLEM.
Maybe it’s just me, but when someone close to me said that my thoughts were, why didn’t I think of that? Working the problem is literally the only way to actively get you out of whatever rut you feel you’re in.
I seem to ebb and flow between feeling productive with my photography business and feeling like I’ll never get to where I want to be. The days when I begin to doubt myself are extremely frustrating and hard. I’m literally ready to throw in the towel. There’s no amount of reading scripture or googling TED talks that can help me when I get that deep into my own head. So here’s what I did- I worked the problem.
I signed up for a few free courses relating to the issues I’m having with post processing and marketing, I watched a few YouTube videos going over specific settings for specific scenarios, I signed up for an 8 week course on marketing (it’s supposed to be 4 to 6 weeks, but, mom life), I joined the National Photographers Association, I asked a few questions for the first time on a Facebook photography group I follow (I’ve never put myself out there like that before), and most importantly, I snapped some pictures for my mom.
Doing these things allowed me to be distracted enough to get out of my head and once I realized my feelings were no longer deceiving me, I took a step back, wrote this blog and realized…okay, I may not FEEL productive all of the time, but that’s SOME progress. And something is better than nothing. The other awesome thing that happened? I found a community of people willing to help, encourage, and just RELATE to what I was feeling- that’s powerful when you’re ready to throw in the towel.
So, if you’re where I was just a few days ago or you know what I’m talking about, here are three words to repeat to yourself continuously- Work. The. Problem.
PS…Feel free to share any experiences or solutions you have had relating to your own “rut.”
I don’t know how many times I’ve said or heard someone say they don’t want to get in a picture because they’re not ready, they’re not as thin as they would like to be, they’ll do it later, they’ll be the one taking the picture to avoid being captured in one. I am probably the worst at it. Somewhere along the road of my life, I decided I wasn’t “enough” to be captured in family photos. What do I mean by enough? It can mean many things, but in my example, enough covered almost every example above and more. At some point in my life, I started to care more about what others would think of my pictures rather than encapsulating wonderful memories.
Why am I blogging about this? My intention with this blog was to write about photography. What I’m learning as I tap into my awareness and creative side is that EVERYTHING involves photography. I’m not talking about posting on social media- that’s obvious. I’m talking about what it actually is…photography is capturing life’s moments- connections, love, loss, pain, etc. Life is just a series of moments and lessons strung together, and if we’re lucky enough to eternalize our memories through taking pictures, we have a better chance of remembering our lives as we age.
In an instant our pictures can become priceless and more meaningful (to us or our loved ones) than we will ever know.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic. Unfortunately, we’ve experienced an untimely death in the family last week, and death has a way of forcing you to reflect on things that may seem insignificant before your loss. I’ve had quite a few deaths in my family recently, and the older I get the more often it seems to happen. Here’s what I’ve noticed lately about one of the first things that happen after a loved one passes away: everyone scrambles to find pictures. Have you noticed that? EVERYONE. All of a sudden it’s the only visual reminder you will ever have of that person. In an instant, pictures become priceless and so much more meaningful.
Here’s what I’ve noticed about loved ones’ first reaction to death: everyone scrambles to find pictures.
As I write this I have this underlying overall feeling of sadness and regret. All I can think about is how many pictures I opted out of because of my insecurities. I think about my children and how important those pictures will be for them one day (hopefully). How many times have you opted out of pictures? One commonality I believe we all share is the feeling of uncertainty about ourselves. Why? Not one person scrambling for pictures sat there and zoomed in on their loved ones to pick them apart or see them in a negative light. It’s quite the opposite.
What do you think about when you look at a picture of a loved one who has passed away? I think about their light, energy, salvation, heart, smile, beauty, and I think about the way they made others feel. I don’t for a second think of what they’re wearing, look like, age…I don’t think about any of that. So honestly, shame on me for being so vain and selfish. Harsh? Nah. I know mothers who’ve buried their babies and would do anything for more pictures. Widows who have clung to pictures of their loved one decades later (to the point their photographs are faded and worn from holding onto the last physical connection they have of that person). How many pictures of you will your loved ones have when it’s your time to go? (Selfies excluded.) In my experience, there will never be enough…so do your loved ones a favor and stand in that frame. The 1/100th of a second it takes for you to do that will (someday) mean the world to someone else.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “If you don’t use it, you lose it”? Well, I’ve heard it, and I used to believe it was true for everything you do. But there’s one area of my life where I’ve found this quote to be inaccurate. In the department of creativity, sometimes not using “it” helps you to reset the “right-brain” part of you to enhance your creativity.
I found myself hitting a brick wall each time I went to edit photos that I’ve already taken of clients. I started picking my pictures apart, to the point of hating every single one. I needed a break. I had been staring at the screen for too many hours, which resulted in zero creativity.
One thing I know about myself is I have to be mindful of work/life balance. If I’m not balanced, I end up all over the place. Too much of this hobby, and I’ll never touch my camera again (okay, I’m exaggerating, but, you get the point). Too little of my hobby and I’ll become overly anxious about my work and feel like I’ve made no progress.
We’ve all learned about the idea of work/life balance…but really it’s more than just life. Life can mean so many things. It seems like the only thing that fits into a box is work…until you begin working for yourself, or working from home. Then your personal life blends into your work life and the work/life balance ideal sort of falls off, or the lines get too blurry to recognize it was there in the first place.
Maybe you can relate, considering this past year several people worked remotely. Trying to figure out when to put time into this business and when to be present at home with my kids was a first for me. I’ve noticed I tend to go all-in on either side of the equation. When I’m in mom mode I think of nothing else. When I’m the photographer I put off my mom duties to try and expand this business and everything that comes with it.
To be honest, I write this as if I’ve got it all figured out, or as if I can even consider my work/hobby a business right now. Let me assure you, this blog, at this point, is a fake it till you make it kind of blog. I have nothing figured out, and I have not accomplished a fraction of what I want to…but I’ve had to learn to be kind to myself. I know if a friend came to me in my situation, I would have the best advice. I would tell them, don’t be so hard on yourself. Or, you’re doing a great job; look back from where you began and see how far you have come.
At this time last year, I had just finished my first year of teaching, and I was taking pictures on the side with my phone for family and friends. Editing became a soothing thing for me. It’s something I can do and zone out to take my mind off of my life while I try my best to perfect the image in front of me.
So why would I need a break from that? I started comparing where I’m at to other photographers’ work (this is a highly saturated market), and I became extremely discouraged. Instead of working harder to be where I want to be, I started having doubts. So I made a conscious decision to take a step back and work on being inspired.
What I’ve learned is there are many ways to work towards your goals (one of them being inspiration). There are tutorials, workshops, days of snapping away, walking around your town or your home searching for perspective, reading blogs, learning from other photographers willing to share, etc. Not only are those ways all acceptable, I think it’s vital to use every different kind of method to work towards your goal. I still have this vision of the type of photographer I want to be and a huge amount of obstacles to overcome to get there (Have you ever tried shooting in ONLY manual mode? Let me tell you- it takes TIME.) There’s no right or wrong way to get to where you want to be in your career/business/hobby/goal. There are many ways, but the best way is YOUR way. And here’s the thing, from what I hear…you won’t realize your journey to your version of success is perfect for YOU until you achieve your goal.
The bottom line is this: Sometimes, it’s okay (and necessary) to step back, breathe, reset, and pick up where you left off. A straight path to success is rare, and it doesn’t make for an interesting story anyway. So, if you find yourself where I was at (unmotivated, unsure, and insecure), give yourself the benefit of the doubt, take a breather, look for inspiration, and then GO.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
Why “That Girl with a Phone”? Well, if I’m honest, the name girl with a phone was already taken. Why would I want to promote my photography blog with a name that implies I’m using my phone? Because I used to output many family portraits with my Google Pixel (1, 2, 3) and a TON of editing.
(I’ve literally complained sometimes about showing up with a phone…leading to the phrase, “I’m just that girl with a phone.”This began as a hobby, and grew into something I never imagined- people asking me to take their family pictures in exchange for compensation. Do you know I actually turned down quite a bit from time to time, because I truly loved to just take pictures. But once I noticed how happy my friends/family/clients were when they received their edits, I became addicted to finding new ways to edit my phone pictures to make them look as professional as possible.
Why is taking the next step (investing in a camera, lighting, and lenses) so scary? For me, at least, I was terrified. It’s hard for me to imagine doing something I love as a hobby, and turning it into a business. I’ve worked as a bartender, teacher, and I worked in the corporate world (for too long). If photography was my outlet, what will my outlet be now? That’s the best part; I don’t need one. The process of scheduling, capturing special moments, and running back to the editing room (let’s be honest our spare bedroom) is one that I thoroughly enjoy from start to finish.
Join me on this journey in the comforts of your own home (or anywhere if you’re mobile). I don’t have a posting schedule yet, but I do know this blog is meant to be transparent. I’ll post updates, client experiences, disasters, mistakes, lessons learned, and most of all, I’ll post whatever it is you’d like to know about me, this new chapter in my life, and anything you’d like to know about getting started.
Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain from you, your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you, and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.