I am audio powered. I love music, musicals, movies with music integrated into the plot (Mr. Holland’s Opus, Sister Act 1 and 2, The Soloist and tons others), I love the sound of waves crashing on the beach, the wind rustling the leaves on the trees, birds chirping in the early morning, laughter and countless other sounds. Some of the most memorable moments in life all have music involved. Because of this, I could really kind of relate to the role of Rita Watson in Sister Act 2. Only my voice isn’t as amazing as hers and our family lives are or were a little different.
At any rate, there’s a scene in the movie where she has just quit the choir and Sister Mary Clarence kinda sneaks up on her as she’s walking down the street and asks her why she quit the choir when she clearly loves singing so much. I don’t remember the entire dialogue that is exchanged, but I do remember when Sister Mary Clarence quotes the writer Rainer Maria Rilke. The quote says “don’t ask me about being a writer. If when you wake up in the morning, you can think of nothing but writing, then you’re a writer” and Sister Mary Clarence goes on to explain to Miss Watson that if she wakes up in the morning thinking of nothing but singing, then she’s a singer. It’s been a several years since I first watched this movie and yet, this lesson was revisited again recently.
As I’ve asked God over and over “am I a photographer, am I a creator” I found myself remembering this scene more than once. I think it could also be said that if, when you wake up in the morning, you can think of nothing but taking pictures and making pretty things, then you are a photographer and a creator. I really come alive when doing either thing, but especially when it comes to taking pictures. I would do it if no one paid me to, I would do it if no one ever saw my captures, I would do it no one liked the captures they did see. I love everything about photography.
I love looking back at my captures and remembering the details that can’t be photographed. What people said, where I was when I saw the capture, the weather, the amount of shots it took to get that “perfect” one, how I feel looking back at the capture later, the editing process, and of course, people’s positive reactions when they see my captures. Unlike when I have created some papercraft project, when I take pictures I don’t compare myself to any other photographers, I don’t critique my captures nearly as intently as I do my papercraft projects and I am now in search of an amazing camera bag that will double as a purse so I can keep my camera with me at all times. You just never know when the sky will be amazing, or that flag at the grocery store will be flying just right against the blue sky, or when the moon will be full during the day or,or, or. I have “gone back” for captures more than once because I didn’t have my camera at the time…sometimes it works, but often if you miss a moment you’re out of luck.
When I first bought my DSLR and took some pretty great shots “out of the box” I thought hmm maybe I should start charging people to take pictures. I took a bunch of pictures, made up a flyer and some coupons and a few other things and had great
success failure. Pretty much zero interest in my work. I kept taking pictures though (remember I absolutely love doing it), and reading and learning so I could take better pictures, but I kinda gave up on the idea of doing it as a profession. Still though, despite having given up, there was this nagging push in that direction and I continued to get positive feedback from places I least expected to. From people who, if biased, would certainly not be biased in my favor and pretty much everyone else who saw my work. I still didn’t have the courage to follow through on the push though.
So…God did what He does sometimes and pushed harder. First I began to think about submitting my images to the county fair’s still exhibits. I’ve always loved this part of the fair. Nothing like seeing something beautiful and your knee-jerk reaction being “oh wow”, but I never thought I had enough talent to enter. The first time I got the thought or prompting I dismissed it. Let’s be totally honest here…I dismissed the prompting the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th time too…maybe even the 5th. It kept coming so I finally thought hmmmm ok maybe I can do it. I chose 4 of my favorite photos (you can see the images I entered into the fair here) and sent them out to print.
Then I had a complete anxiety attack over picking up the photos and whether I was really ready to enter them. I had never seen any of my work in print so what if it didn’t look as good printed as it did on the computer? What if once printed they looked terrible? What if, once they were printed I just couldn’t make myself move forward with entering them? What if…then I thought about what I tell my kids all the time: what if IF never happens….next stop the dollar store. I got to the dollar store and they were out of foam core so I had nothing to mount the photos on (per the rules of the fair they have to be mounted) and I was off the hook. Or at least I thought I was…Lil Sis reminded me I could enter the ones I had enough scrap foam core for and when we got home from picking up the prints my daughter remembered that I had three pieces of foam core in storage. It only took one to mount the 4 images.
The time came to turn the photos in and even at the last moment I almost gave up. When I told one of the volunteers I was there to enter some of my photos he goes “professional level, probably not” or something very similar and I almost walked out. Thankfully I had my little Ranga with me and her presence helped me have the courage to move forward anyway. I got all of my photos labeled and tagged and then was told to give them to Darren. When Darren got them he had a totally different reaction and I walked away floating on cloud nine (see the link above for his reaction).
During this process, I saw someone entering on the professional photographer level. She was just as nervous and insecure as I was. I caught a glimpse of her photos and honestly thought mine were better and immediately set a goal to enter again next year as a professional. I set this goal without thinking about it really…it’s the first time I’ve been able to set a goal with a deadline in months, maybe even years. It was such a powerful moment.
During this whole adventure, a good friend texted me and let me know she was going to pay me to capture her wedding. My first paying gig is a wedding!!!! WOW talk about exciting! And, while all of this was going on, I was also being prompted to design new business cards specifically for photography and get them printed. I’m very reluctant to spend money on too much right now (especially investing in me), but nothing ventured nothing gained right? So I designed a pretty amazing business card and then came the prompting to post it. That was HUGELY scary for me…if you’ve ready my story then you know why. Over and over I heard God tell me that those who trust Him needn’t fear and so, I finally did as prompted. It was the most relieving experience I’ve had in a long time. Imagine being rid of a burden so heavy your back was arched under the weight, but you honestly didn’t know you were carrying it. That’s kinda where I was. I have experienced so much joy since releasing that burden.
What on earth does skinned knees have to do with this post you ask? God has pushed so hard so long and caught me totally off guard so many times that I’ve skinned my knees repeatedly. Guess what? Skinned knees STILL hurt as a grown up and I’m tired of hurting. I’ve hurt in one way or another for so long, I almost don’t know what it’s like to function without hurting. I’m getting there though and it’s such a beautiful thing to let go of hurt and instead hang on to hope. God has let me know abundantly clear that I need to pursue creative endeavors and trust myself. He trusts me and has proven it repeatedly. It’s scary though; I’m not gonna even lie.
It’s scary to take a chance on yourself when, to your best recollection, you can’t remember ever having done so. It’s scary to trust yourself when a lot of your decisions have had disastrous results. It’s scary to trust yourself when you have had the confidence beat out of you emotionally and physically and you are having to start all over again to figure out who you are and who you want to be. There is so much I’m scared of right now, but this much I know “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power…” and I am choosing to take back my power how and wherever I can. I believe that any desire the Lord places in our hearts and souls will be successful when we take time to give that desire the time and attention it deserves. I know He wants us to be happy and successful beyond our wildest imagination and so, because of this knowledge, I am taking a chance on me and pursuing creative endeavors.
I’m already seeing the blessings of this decision. My first paid capture is a wedding, the bride’s mom wants me to do her son’s senior pictures, I’ve entered the fair (despite the outcome), I’ve made, posted and ordered business cards, I’ve had enough confidence to set a goal for the first time in a long time, and I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time too. It took some bloody knees to get me there, but they are scabbed over now and healing just fine. I’m looking forward to where this creative adventure takes me and will keep you updated along the ride.