Category: personal

strengthen your intuition to grow as an artist

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The first three-ish years of my photography career were a whirlwind of trying to improve my technical skills, and trying to shoot weddings that looked….well…like everyone else’s. At one point, I was toting around a list in my camera bag of “50 Must Have Wedding Day Shots” that I had found online and printed out. I tried desperately to follow the list because I was so sure that we absolutely had to follow it in order to succeed. Ben thought I was nuts. And, honestly, back in those early days of hustle and confusion, I think I was a little bit nuts. I knew where I wanted to go with my photography, but I didn’t know how to get there. I knew what I valued in life (relationships, emotion, human connection), but I didn’t know how to communicate that through my work, and it was so frustrating; still, I clung to that PDF shot list as if it were my ticket to success. I mentally checked off all of the boxes, and delivered weddings that looked the way I thought they were supposed to, but I knew in my heart that my images were missing something.

Then, there was the day that I accidentally left my precious list at home. I remember it like it was yesterday. I spent the first half of the wedding in robot mode, recalling as much of my list as I could from memory, and dutifully moved through all of the “required” shots. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the bride’s brother moving toward her with open arms. There were tears streaming down his cheeks, and a huge smile on his face. She saw him and opened her arms, too. That’s when I started shooting. They hugged, laughed, cried, and exchanged “I love you’s,” and I captured all of it. It was beautiful, and my heart felt light and happy. A week later, when I was editing the images, I came across that joyful sequence (which was most definitely not on my recommended shot list), and my heart felt light and happy all over again. Then, a few weeks later, we delivered the completed gallery, and the bride called me to say that she loved the photos, but was extra, extra grateful for the moments we captured between her and her brother. I think that was the exact moment that I started to understand the connection between the way I feel and the end result of my work.

After that whole experience, I ditched my list and began to pay close attention to how I “felt” while shooting. I didn’t fully understand it at first, but those feelings of heaviness and lightness, happiness and discontent – that was my intuition. Eight years later, I now rely 100% on my intuition to make “in the moment” decisions on a wedding day. I can tune in to my couple, their families, their friends, and know right away what to do to get the best possible photographic results. I rely heavily on my intuition to make important business decisions, decide which clients are the best fit for me, and determine how to make the best use of my time and talents. I tap into my intuition to help my coaching/mentoring clients make decisions about their businesses, as well. I can “feel into” any situation and get the answers I’m looking for. Intuition is kind of like a super power; only, everyone has it. Yes; even YOU.

So, what exactly is intuition and how can it help you as an artist or a business owner? Well, it’s basically a secondary intelligence. It’s the body sending you “hunches” about things faster than your mind can consciously process. Steve Jobs once said that “intuition is more powerful than intellect,” and I could not agree more. Have you ever made a decision about something and then immediately started feeling sick to your stomach or sweating profusely? That kind of physical response happens when you go against your intuition. Those responses are there to tell you to make a different choice. Most of us just ignore it and think, “Oh, I must have eaten a bad hot dog for lunch,” and that may, in fact, be true; but, if you start paying closer attention, you’ll find that it’s usually your body giving you the answers you’re seeking.

It has taken me years of practice (and the study of meditation, mindfulness, and energy healing) to trust myself to accurately interpret the internal “nudges” I get, but pretty much, once you get comfortable with it, it’s a sure thing. Wedding photographers, take note: It really comes in handy on wedding days, when your brain is pulled in a million different directions. So much happens so quickly, and it’s not enough to only focus your camera on the bride and groom when there are a million other emotional interactions happening all around you. How do you know where to turn and what to shoot to capture those split second moments that result in stunning, emotionally charged candid photos? How do you know what to say to people who are uncomfortable being photographed? How do you determine the best way to capture the true personality of someone you’ve only just met? INTUITION. You already know the answers to those questions before you even ask; you just have to learn how to listen.

If you’re curious about how to strengthen your intuition, here are three very basic things you can start doing right now that will have a huge impact on your life and your business:

  1. Pay attention to your physical body. When people ask you what your “gut” is telling you to do, take it literally. Be still and quiet. Take a few deep breaths and ask your question (in your head). Then, go through the possible options one at a time and pause to feel what’s happening in your body. Do you feel light or heavy? Dizzy? Sweaty? Weirdness in your stomach? All of those things are your body’s way of giving you real time answers. It’s pretty cool.
  2. Mediate for 3 minutes. The simple act of being quiet for three minutes a day can do wonders for strengthening your connection to intuition. Just three minutes a day will increase your blood circulation, lower stress levels, increase focus, and improve sleep. While all of those things can only enhance your life, it will have the biggest impact on your intuitive connection because you will learn how to be still and tune in.
  3. Keep a journal. I recommend journaling for many different reasons. I’m a huge fan of keeping a gratitude journal, and I also think it’s important to consistently write and re-write your goals. But, the thing about intuition is that sometimes the answers come to you when you’re trying to fall asleep at night (because you’re finally still and quiet enough to listen), or when you’re sitting at a red light and your brain is on auto-pilot. When those little flashes come to you, write them down!! If you’re anything like me, that’s the only way you’ll remember what came through.

I hope these tips were helpful!  Learning to trust my inner voice was one of the most important things I could have ever done to grow as an artist, and a business owner. It’s a skill that has impacted my life in a big way, and has allowed me to help many other creatives find the answers they were looking for, too. If you want to learn more about how to use your intuition to enhance every area of your life, click the link below to get in touch!

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3 things I did to overcome self-doubt and a major creative block

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A common misconception about artists and creatives is that they can simply turn their creativity on and off like a faucet; but, that’s not even close to true. It takes really hard, consistent work to maintain it. You have to challenge yourself continuously, and push really hard to have creative breakthroughs. To be honest, it can be exhausting. There are times when you just lose your confidence and feel uninspired. If you have felt this way before, you’ll be happy to know that it’s 100% normal, and something all creative people have to go through. I would even go so far as to say that feeling uncomfortable is a necessary part of the creative process, but unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any easier. I experienced my first major creative block two years ago when Elsie was born, and it took me a full year and a half to break out of it.

Becoming a mother was such a major lifestyle change, and I struggled so hard in every way imaginable. I was constantly tired, and every ounce of energy I could muster up was directed toward figuring out how to function in this new reality. I felt empty creatively, and this might sound dramatic, but it was heartbreaking for me. That was always the one thing about myself that I have never had a doubt about. I am a creative person; it’s been part of my identity since childhood. I knew that everything about my life would change when I had a baby, but I really wasn’t expecting to lose such a defining piece of who I was.

For the first six months of her life, I stuffed my personal feelings away so I could focus all my attention on learning how to be a mother. Then, my wedding season started, and I was so excited to get back to doing what I love to do! I showed up to every wedding with so much love and gratitude in my heart for the people I was photographing, and I gave it my all, but I just felt…different. Something was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was; all I knew was that I wasn’t who I used to be, and I was literally mourning that loss. I felt awkward in my new post-baby body, which led to a complete loss of self-confidence and a creative void. When I finally acknowledged that I needed to move forward and start the process of reinventing myself, things started to feel a little bit less awful. I researched “how to bust through a creative block,” made a list of action steps that were relevant to me as a photographer and business woman, and started following through with them. Slowly and surely, I rebuilt my self-confidence and creativity, and made a full return to joyful living. I will never be the same person I was before I became a mother, but that is as it should be. It really was a full transformation that made me into a much better person, artist, teacher, and friend, but it was not without growing pains.

There were three things that really helped me break through my creative block, and these things can be applied to any one in any creative field:

1. Reach out to people outside of your industry. I needed a source of inspiration that was outside of the wedding realm. Don’t get me wrong, I love weddings. I love weddings because I love people, and emotion, and the intricacies of relationships. Weddings are my comfort zone, and I needed to get uncomfortable in order to grow. So, first, I reached out to a friend and did a “no rules” shoot with her just to get my creative juices flowing. Then, I reached out to a couple of local fashion bloggers. Fashion shoots are NOT within my comfort zone. I’m not a fashion oriented person; I’m a people person. I don’t think too much about what I wear, and I don’t typically read fashion blogs, but these ladies were so awesome to work with. It was challenging for me, and made me feel uncomfortable, but I pushed through it and created a few images that I’m really proud of, AND I made some really good friends in the process.

2. Take on a new creative hobby. This is kind of hilarious because I barely have time to take a shower, but I decided to give hand-lettering a try. I purchased an online course, bought some special paper and pens, and would practice every night after Elsie went to sleep. Spoiler alert: I never became good at hand-lettering. BUT, putting my creative energy into something that was not photography or related to photography really helped me find my way back to a place of self-confidence.

3. Make time to breathe and meditate. I am a person who loves to work, so believe me when I say that I had to FORCE myself to do these things, and it was not easy. When I say “time to breathe,” I mean I put the baby in the stroller, put in some headphones, and went for a 30 minute walk. I listened to audio books, I brainstormed ideas for shoots, and sometimes I even talked to myself. It was great. As far as meditation, I did some actual meditations with chanting, but it also came in the form of journaling, free writing, collaging, and reading. “Meditating” can be anything that helps you work through the “stuff” that is holding you back. I had some of my best creative breakthroughs during these sessions.

One of the most important lessons I learned through this awkward transitional phase of life is that creativity is tied to our emotional health, and that self-doubt is the driving force behind creative blocks. If you’re feeling blocked or “stuck,” don’t fret; it’s only temporary. There are many ways to break on through to the other side and find your creative spark again. If these three things worked for me, then I’m willing to bet they would work for you, too. Self-doubt is a tough thing to overcome, but it’s totally do-able. It’s always worth it to do the hard work that gets you to where you want to be. Motherhood is an incredibly beautiful blessing, and I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity; but I think a lot of people just walk away from themselves when they have a baby, and in my humble opinion, that’s not okay. For me, becoming a mother doesn’t mean putting my dreams on hold until my children are 20; it means that I now have to fight even harder to go after them, because someone else is watching every step I take. My daughter just turned two on Sunday, so it’s been two full years since I started this journey, and I’ve finally made my way back to a place where creativity flows freely. I’m sure there will be more self-doubt and creative blocks in my future, but I know I can overcome those easily now.

Have you ever experienced a creative block? What did you do to break through it?

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