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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!