Have you been looking at other’s work, comparing yourself to others and wondering why you aren’t as good as them or why you can’t accomplish that same look? I know I do, I am guilty and I am sure you might be too. Elizabeth shares some tips here with us on how to be yourself and how she discovered herself.
I worked at a music video shoot last week and noticed something really interesting about the artist. While in hair & makeup, she was trying to center herself and focus inward before performing. She was listening to music that inspired her even though the music she was listening to wasn’t anything like her own personal style.
You know what us photographers have a tendency to do? Question our personal style when we see the work of photographers we admire. And then beat ourselves up because our work doesn’t look like theirs. Haven’t you ever sat down at your computer to gain a bit of inspiration before shooting and, instead of gleaning the essence of the photography, you focus on the style?
The singer from the music video didn’t change her style or voice or the way she moved because of the music that inspired her. And I don’t know what she was actually getting from it, but watching the process from afar was a beautiful experience.
I’ve been struggling since day one to establish my own personal style. I’ve been inspired by so many photographers over these years and each time I find a new one who makes my heart leap, I sink down in my chair and groan and think “grrrrreat. Now I have to change again.” This wishy-washyness has made it really difficult to find paying sessions and steady work because, although they might have admired all the work on my website, potential clients couldn’t really tell what they were actually going to get if they hired me. There were so many styles to wade through that I think I became a photographer people would always admire, but never hire.
I tried some things to escape the reality that I had to buckle down and sort myself out. One of the things was a page on my site called ‘Your Options’ to show different styles I could produce for clients. I’d never seen a successful photographer do that before and you know why? Because it doesn’t work.
So one evening after opening my studio, I was crying allover my keyboard after editing a disaster family session shot in my too-small-for-families studio on a backdrop I hadn’t yet tested. I cried to my husband that I “haaaate (sniffle) shooting (hyperventilating) families!!!!!” At that moment, my close friend and assistant, Toyha, messaged me on Facebook and said “you have to see this photographer”. At first, I cried some more because the last thing I wanted to see when I was ready to throw in the towel was someone doing it better.
I kept going back to that website and found that the photographer, Skye Hardwick, had a blog for photographers with a workbook and posing guide. I bought them both and they put me back on center, gave me direction, inspiration and freedom to be ME and not anyone else. In her bio, Skye makes it very clear that she’s not the photographer for everyone. She only photographs children and she largely photographs them alone which is exactly what I want to do.
I saw a status from a fellow photographer on Facebook that said something like “what do you photograph when you’re doing it just for you?” And Skye answered, “Even my paid work is for me.” (clearly, I’m stalking the woman).
Finding her website and soaking in all of the materials she had to offer made me certain of the things I needed to do to change the face of Glacier Cake:
- Stop taking photos just to pay the bills.
- Stop shooting things that aren’t in my heart to shoot.
- Decide once and for all on my style. Admire others, yes…copy them? No way.
- Pose more. I bought the posing guide and if you are wondering why you’d pay for that instead of just ripping out magazine pages, just know this: there’s a big difference. Back when I was haphazard, I took pride in being the anti-posed photographer. And from the posing guide and workshop workbook, I learned that you can pose without being static and looking like posing. You can use poses as a foundation to build on for beautiful, calculated and precise portraits that look exactly how you wanted them to look.
- Charge more and work less
Are you starting to see yourself in Elizabeth? I am…
To see the rest of this tutorial and find out what else helped Elizabeth get better at what she does, click HERE