Have you ever pushed yourself waaaay outside of your comfort zone? Where there’s financial risk, social risk, risk of failure, risk of wasting your time? Yeah, those all sound like terrible situations to put myself in……waaaaay outside of this plan-ahead, worry wart, Virgo, Enneagram 6’s comfort zone!
But, yep, that’s just what I did. I signed up for Brooke Schultz’s Love Soaked Retreat and Mastermind. I spent the money, went BY MYSELF to a 4 day long retreat with a group of women I had never met before that have all been in business way longer than me, and said a little prayer that I wasn’t going to be too deep in over my head.
And that leads me into my first takeaway from retreat week….
Regret is worse than failure.
I started taking pictures 10 years ago. I dragged my husband around the neighborhood so I could photograph flowers and houses. I volunteered at the animal shelter taking pictures of their dogs for their website. I took pictures of my niece. But I didn’t think I could be taken seriously. Surely no one would actually pay me to take pictures. I watched co-workers with their side hustle photography business and thought, “Man, I’d love to do that, but….” I had a full time job and a laundry list of excuses.
I was scared of failing. What if people didn’t like the pictures I took? What if I messed up with a paying client? I was scared of the embarrassment that would come if I failed. But you know what was worse? Watching my peers move forward with their “side-hustles” and leave the job we all hated. They were moving on, making a living doing what they loved, and I was stuck working 50+ hours a week and was pretty miserable about it.
One thing that resonated with me at the retreat is that regret is worse than failure. Failure feels intense but it isn’t permanent, but regret pains you. If you try a new and different shot as a photographer, there’s a chance you will fail and it won’t turn out as you hoped. You learn and move onto the next one. But what if it turns out that the image works, and is better than you envisioned, and the client falls in love with it? If you wouldn’t have taken the risk, you would have regretted not taking the shot. (Anyone else have Hamilton’s Not Throwing Away My Shot in their head?!)
Starting my photography business was a risk. It could have been a total flop. Never in a million years did I think I could be booked months in advance by people I don’t know. But that big risk of failure has turned into the biggest reward I could have asked for.
The second takeaway….
What’s the next shot?
For the retreat, we all submitted images for our portfolio review by Brooke. These were images that we felt best represented our work – basically putting our best work out in front of everyone and holding our breath for the criticism that was sure to come.
I’m joking… kind of. It was definitely intimidating to have your work reviewed in front of a room full of strangers, but it wasn’t as scary as I envisioned. We all received praises and constructive criticism meant to help us grow as photographers and improve our work. A common theme came up for the entire group….”This is a good image, but I want to see the next shot.”
What were the small tweaks we could make to take our photos from good to great? Was it a small change in the angle we were shooting at? Was it closing in a gap between mom and dad? Was it getting the kids to run and jump to add a bit of motion? Take the good shot, then make the next shot GREAT.
It’s time to be more selfish.
A fellow photographer took some branding photos of me recently that I shared with my husband. His first gut reaction was, “Wow honey, you look REALLY pretty!” Which was super sweet of him (awwww, love him! <3), but then he went on to say, “I think you look so pretty because you’re actually happy with what you’re doing.”
Think about that, my friends. My husband basically said that my inward happiness and contentment with creating art is showing up on the outside.
When Brooke told us we need to be more selfish, she didn’t mean it in a mean or harmful way. She meant it in a “the only sustainable art is selfish” way. If we aren’t loving what we are creating, we will get burned out – just as I was burned out from that painful 50+ hour-a-week job that I worked for far too long. If we focus more on how we show up for ourselves, it will ooze out in all the best ways and result in the most gorgeous images for our clients. Yes, we are providing a service for our customers. But our customers are hiring us to create images of their family in a way that only we see them. Its a big lovely heart-filled relationship and I’m.here.for.it!
And the even better thing is, I left the retreat with a group of female photographer friends that I would have never met otherwise. The photography world can be lonely, but to have a community of photographers with unique visions and challenges and wins is such a blessing. We’ve all been able to learn from each other and I can’t wait to see how we grow over the next 6 months during our mastermind with Brooke!
Are you interested in learning more about my family session offerings? Reach out to me here so we can continue the conversation! XO