As often happens, I am at a loss as to what to write for my weekly blog. Fortunately, my blog is only weekly because if I had to do it more frequently I would be writing a whole bunch of nothing. I just can’t think of that many things to write about that would be interesting enough for people to read. Granted, I currently think/hope that I write things that people would be interested to read, but that’s beside the point. Anyway, I had an interaction with a potential client this weekend that provided me with something that I thought could be useful for someone.
Several years ago, I had a really good client whom I adored. I photographed her maternity and her son, who was to be a big brother soon. It was a lovely session. In fact, it was a dream session for me because of the images I was able to capture. To make a long story short, I made a promise that I didn’t keep. It wasn’t for malicious reasons, I promise you. It came down to us having different perspectives on the subject and I don’t think that I thoroughly appreciated her side of things. In addition to that, I was experiencing imposter syndrome. This is where I didn’t feel that I was as talented as I thought I was or as others thought I was. I felt insecure and wanted to prove to myself and others (even though others weren’t asking me to prove anything to them) that I was at least, just as good as everyone else. Regardless, why I broke my promise does not absolve me from doing so. To this day I still feel bad about it because that’s just not me. That’s not who I am nor want to be. Had I just stayed in my lane and fought off the negative vibes I was feeding myself, all would have been well. My integrity nor conscience wouldn’t have taken such a hit. What I learned from that experience was that my only competition is me. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone. There will always be people who see my work and they either like it, love it or they don’t. There’s nothing I can do about it. All I can do is uphold my belief in me and my work and continue to improve upon my craft. I’ve also learned to be a better listening and to make sure I’m taking other people’s perspectives into deep consideration. Art does not trump everything.
A few years after that, I provided a complimentary session to a fellow entrepreneur’s friend. Instead of me directing how the session would go, I let her do it. She had me photographing in a way that made me uncomfortable trying to conform to what she wanted. I was so eager to please that I didn’t take charge as I should have and the session was probably one of the worst I’ve ever done. There were just a handful of images from that session that I’ve ever shown because it simply was not an adequate representation of my work. I was so disappointed in myself. What I failed to remember was that I was the artist in that scenario. I was too busy trying to be a people pleaser that I forgot all about that. So, now when I look at those images I cringe because if I showed many of the images to people they wouldn’t know that it was my work. When I think about that, that’s probably a good thing. Had it been a paid session, I most certainly would have rephotographed it. Even though I was trying something new, what I produced was not what I was going for. What did I learn from this experience? To not let people tell me how to do my job or create my art. Collaboration is something I taut but not when it goes against my better artistic judgment. I must keep my artistic integrity intact and not be swayed or sidetracked.
So, circle back to this past weekend. I received an email via my website from a potential client. She expressed that she wanted to create a modeling portfolio for her five-month-old daughter. I gave her a call so that we could talk about it. We had a really great talk and had ironed everything out as to what she wanted, what it would cost and what needed to be done. During our conversation, I explained to her that I wasn’t involved in the modeling world and couldn’t tell her what to expect. She was fine with that. I wanted to make sure that she knew upfront what my limitations were. After we finished talking and she told me approximately when she wanted to schedule the session, I did some research on modeling for babies. The information I found was eye-opening and I knew that I had to pass that on to her. What she wanted and what was required were two totally different things. The websites I read stated that with babies, they didn’t need professional pictures. Snapshots with clear views of their faces with pleasant expressions would be fine. Also, they would need to be updated frequently because babies’ looks change so quickly. When I sent her the summary email of our conversation, I also included the information I had found. I knew there was a chance that I would lose her business if she decided to take the shots herself but I didn’t want to feel as though I was taking advantage of her. When I notified her she thanked me for the information and decided to still have me photograph her daughter. It wasn’t for the bigger package but it was more frequently. She appreciated my honesty. Yes, I’m happy that she will allow me to photograph her daughter but I’m even happier that I was able to provide transparency to her so that she could make an informed decision.
My advice to anyone is simply, do you, boo. If it doesn’t feel right in your spirit, don’t do it or speak up. Don’t let anyone change what you do or how you do it just to get approval or a check. When you have self-worth, there is no amount of money or people’s disapproval that can take that away from you. Keep going and growing and before you know it, you’ll be where you want to be, the way you want to be there.