I was driving home from a photo session last week, high from the experience, buzzing with realizations about the work I do, full of a gratitude that this is my job.
First, a confession: I did not set out to do this. I never in a million years thought that I would be a photographer some day. A mother, yes. A creative person, yes. But a photographer? No.
Yet here I am. How I landed here is a long and winding story for another day and I’m sure if you search my archives, I’ve told it before in many different ways. But today, I want to talk to you about the WHY behind what I do.
There is only one reason: I want to make people happy. Making you happy makes me happy.
That’s it. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. I know I can’t make everyone happy. That’s not my job. But the people who find me here on the big ol’ internet are usually searching for something. Whether you hire me for a photo session or join my Slice of Life e-course, you are searching for meaning. You are hoping someone will see you, really see you. You are searching for more fulfillment, more “me” time, more joy.
Does that sound about right?
Last night, I attended a book reading of my favorite author, Anne Lamott. She talks a lot about the writing process (which also relates to the creative process.) One of the things she said that stood out to me is that each of our stories is unique and each of our stories are the same.
We all share common experiences, common joy, common pain. By sharing our stories, whether through words or photographs or other artistic means, we are giving voice to what’s lurking inside. But even more amazingly, we are giving voice to other people who may be experiencing the same thing.
It’s hard to be vulnerable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve questioned whether I should publish a particularly vulnerable blog post or share a photo I don’t think is “perfect”. But I promise you this: I never regret doing it. It can be scary, yes. But it always feels better to let it out than to keep it in. And nine times out of ten, someone out there responds with a “me, too” and I let out a sigh of relief. I am not alone.
So when my client last week said to me at the beginning of our photo session that she is uncomfortable in front of the camera, I was able to understand. I know. Me, too. You are not alone. By the end of the session, she was twirling and laughing and allowing herself to be seen.
When people sign up for my photography e-course and timidly introduce themselves to the class, saying that they are new at this, that they are intimidated by better photographers and by people with fancy cameras, I am able to understand. I know. Me, too. You are not alone. I’ve been there and I’ve found my way to the other side. By the end of the e-course, students are seeing in new ways, capturing amazing photos, and most importantly embracing where they are in life.
All of this is to say that it’s not about the photos. Yes, you will get fantastic photos if you hire me. Yes, your photography will improve if you take my e-course. But it’s about so much more than that. It’s about how you want to FEEL. Hopefully, in the end you will be transformed in some way. You will see yourself or your world in a new way. And hopefully, in some way, I can bring a little happiness to your life.
Reminder: the next session of the Slice of Life Project starts on MONDAY! In this 6-week e-course, you will learn to slow down, appreciate, and capture your own everyday lives, and improve your photography while you’re at it! No prior photography experience required. Any kind of camera welcome. Details and registration here.