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For Photographers: The ART of Being Bold

Culebra Outex Nikon June 12 2014 0008Time for some real talk! Im going to tell you about one of my biggest personal challenges on a wedding day and what I’m repeating to myself in my head this year to overcome it. If you share the same fears let me know and we can internet hug-it-out ok? Time for a little vulnerability y’all.

The big hangup: I am scared of being perceived as annoying or pushy or insensitive by guests/family at weddings by being “in the way.” That may sound really simple but it can really throw a wrench in the gears when it comes to getting the photograph I want to take.

When I was a second shooter for Tracy Turpen Photography, I watched her take photographs that I really could only dream of taking. During highly emotional moment’s she stood right there… in it… with them. No worry of offending them. No backing away. A specific wedding you can even go take a look at had a particularly emotional moment, when the bride and her father did a “first look.” The bride teared up before he came to her, and they were both crying while they embraced. See it here: Kate and Kyle Married on Tracy Turpen’s Blog. I was standing on the porch of the house, watching in awe as she owned that position, alongside that moment.

To be front and center with that moment may sound like an obvious place to be for the photographer, most of the time it’s the exact place place to be for that matter! For my INFJ personality, those moments are paralyzing, exciting, pushing, pulling, inspiring, terrifying, and more. I rarely feel like I, a stranger, deserve to be there, no matter how kind the people are. Pushing to the front, perhaps blocking the view of “great uncle Joe” is the furthest distance from my natural instinct that you can get. What makes it more challenging for me is that I am a highly sensitive person. I find it very challenging to be bold and lean into those moments for fear of bothering someone. It may sounds small but it. is. so. hard. #thestruggleisreal

All this to say, Im really scared when Im sitting at the end of the aisle, sticking out like a sore thumb. My heart is racing… but not primarily because of the technical parts of the photography, but instead because of my worry to be bold when I need to be. When I want to be.

Here’s what I am learning, thanks almost entirely to the encouragement and feedback I received at a recent photograph workshop with Ben and Erin Chrisman. I had admired their work since before I was a wedding photographer. Their work has a wild, bold, edgy, and has REAL heart that is palpable for me when I see it. The number one aspect I love the most was that it just seems like their clients let them in and I always wondered how. Looking behind the curtain I saw that it was a combination of being “let in” but also being bold to get those images when you know they need to be taken, regardless of any personal hangups. No judgements, just take that photo! They gently told me that I need to just go for it. Those times that I did, they saw, and they could tell the difference. The images I personally love that I have taken.. are when I was bold, when I just let all that head-space-mental-block stuff go and just went for that photograph I knew I wanted to take. After just 2 days with them, I walked away knowing what my number one focus this year needed to be.

Instead of looking to subjects for some sort of permission to be there, I need to give myself that permission.

That was big. It was “crocodile tears” kind of big. It was a game changer. I cannot explain how huge it is to my work and my mind on a wedding day and I am forever indebted to them for that.

The vulnerability moment here with you is to encourage YOU to do the same. If you have any similar hangups, please know that the fact that you are aware, is what ensures you FROM being a jerk on a wedding day. They fact that you care to be respectful is not a bad thing, but a good thing. The important thing to remember always is that you DO deserve to be there. Your clients hired YOU. They chose YOU and your creative eye. When they picked you out, they invited you in and it’s your duty as their photographer to be bold and show their day as best as you possibly can. That means being you… fully… boldly… and with your head held high, leaning in to those sacred moments.

You deserve to be there.

And because we all need a little Ben and Erin wisdom here are the lines they said that changed me…

“You can’t let the random asshole stop you from doing what everyone else loves you for doing.” – Ben

“I can’t wait to see what you do when you bring yourself to the photos.”- Erin

 

 

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Hey there!

This is a photo of me in a burger bar in Stockholm Sweden. I am about to drink the best beer I have ever had. It's a pretty important photo of me. I just remember feeling filled with joy and so so glad to be alive. That's a good place to start on getting to know me.

 

I like to travel.

I like beer.

I like the person who was across the table from me. Any guesses who?

where we hang

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