One of my worst habits is that I am really impulsive. I hate to wait and I love to share. So even though it doesn’t go live for another month and a half I wanted to share a few paragraphs from my upcoming breakout, The Art of Authenticity.
Something I talk about in the breakout is the importance of finding your WHY. The entire concept of finding my WHY first entered my mind after listening to Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk. After listening to him talk it seemed so obvious – how can we do anything without knowing why we do it. But how often do we really stop to ask ourselves why we do something? The speech isn’t just for photographers so I’d encourage anyone to check it out.
Finding Your Why as a Photographer:
Before you can really evaluate your work as a photographer, you have to understand why you’re taking pictures in the first place. For me, I do this to remember. The way my life looked, the way it felt. Creating something beautiful is important, but secondary. Because photography for me, is about creating an authentic visual diary. And beauty, without truth, is meaningless.
We’ve all done it, myself included. Had this image in our mind of how things would go and how well they would photograph. The beautiful birthday party decor, perfectly themed, gorgeous late afternoon light streaming in with your three year old immaculately dressed in a coordinating outfit. Her tutu the exact same shade of pink as the streamers. You can already see the perfect blog post in your mind!
Except on the day of the party, the cake you ordered is completely wrong, the location you reserved is in awful light and your preschooler refuses to wear anything but her Frozen pajamas. You have two options. You can fight the baker, insist upon a location change and argue with a three year about what to wear – all in an effort to get perfect pictures of a day you had planned so precisely. Or you can step back and really observe what is happening. Listen to the story, watch it unfold, and capture it unapologetically.
Imagine the photos you could have captured if things had gone as planned. Perfect decorations, perfectly dressed children, Pinterest perfect cake. But what would those pictures remind you of years from now?
Maybe how many hours you spent scouring the internet for invitations that were just right? How happy you were when you found out the outfit you ordered on Etsy could be rush delivered in time for the party? How despite every star not aligning, you made it work dammit! But do you even want to remember that stuff?
I want to remember the small trials that will make us laugh to ourselves years later. The cake that is totally not what I ordered. My feisty little girl in her Frozen pajamas because you know what? Your birthday is no day to start taking orders! Her excitement at seeing her school friends somewhere other than school, even if all the best moments are happening in dappled light.
The thing is, when you remember your why you can let go of all the things that don’t matter. We don’t photograph birthday parties to remember the decor or the cake. We do it to remember who our child was on the day they turned three. What they loved. What it felt like to be there, to celebrate another year of life.
Because life is in the imperfections and the best stories are told when we learn to embrace them.