Almost every day Paul or I will take Rusty for a walk. Lately, since I’ve been too busy (lame excuse, I know), Paul’s been in charge of taking him for his daily walk. They have a specific route they take and any time Paul goes towards the front door, Rusty is right there behind him hoping he’ll grab his leash. If you read my post from Monday, then you’ll know I am a worry-wart. I worry about my little puppy like I’m getting paid to. I know it’s not healthy and I know worrying doesn’t help anything. But lately, I’ve been letting go of the worries. When he goes for walks with Paul, Paul will take him to the park by the cornfields, and if the park is pretty empty, Paul will let Rusty off his leash. The first time I heard this, I nearly had a heart attack. “You WHAT?!?! What if he ran in the street?? What if another dog didn’t like him and ran after him?? What if he saw a squirrel and made a dash for it??” But Paul knew what he was doing. He knew Rusty was getting older and knew Rusty was becoming a better listener. Earlier today I decided to be like cool-calm-laid back-Paul. I let Rusty off his leash while I watered the front garden. Usually Rusty barks from the backyard gate while I’m in the front yard. So instead, I started watering with him in the front yard on his leash. Then I slowly took off his leash and just waited. He waited. I said, “Sit” – he sat. I said, “Stay” – he stayed. I said, “Come here” – he followed. My puppy has grown up. To be honest, him growing up just kind of came out of nowhere. And because he is growing up, my stress levels remain low (except on special occasions…).
Rusty growing up almost overnight is like a business. When I first started my business in 2012, I expected way too much. I expected to find my style after a few sessions. My editing style would just appear out of nowhere and I would love it. A steady workflow wouldn’t take me very long to have. Building a name for myself will be easy. I’ll figure out my branding in a few days. My office will be super easy to finish. Everything will be perfect.
HA! The truth couldn’t be farther from all that nonsense. As a beginning photographer, it’s normal to expect all these things. You see someone else doing wonderful things with their business and it’s natural to want all those wonderful things to happen overnight to you. Reality check: it’s not that simple. For the first time since I’ve started, I’m just now beginning to feel confident enough to know who I am as a photographer. I now know my style. I know that I love all romantic things; poses, lettering, photos, ideas, words, etc. All of those things I’ve used to build my brand. And I’m still building it.
People have asked me what is important when becoming a photographer. Obviously the technical side of photography is a must; you can’t grow as a photographer without knowing how to work your camera and lighting. But another really important thing is style. It’s so easy to fall into the lump of the cookie-cutter photographers. I did it. I took photos that other people were taking because it was easy. It wasn’t risky. I recreated Pinterest photos because it was easier than trying new things. I wanted my editing to look like other big-time photographers because they were doing it that way. I wanted my branding to look like others. Comparison truly is the thief of joy (well done, Roosevelt).
What’s the point of this post? It’s simple – figure out who you are as a photographer. Know your style. Don’t expect it all to happen overnight. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t try to be like others – it will make you forget why you’re doing something that you love. The road may be bumpy and unpleasant, but when you can be confident enough to know you’re being true to yourself, it’s all worth it.