As a photographer (or any creative, or professional, really) when you sign up for a workshop I think we set
high expectations. It’s a workshop we selected ourselves, paid for and hope to walk out of being much more educated and hold a new key to the mystery of success. Perhaps I set my expectations too high, or perhaps I didn’t trust enough in who I am.

You see, the photography industry is tough. There is a constant push for community over competition but naturally competition and comparison always take the lead. It’s a daily tug of war. We look at other artists who are successful and wonder how they got there. What do they know that I don’t? What can they teach me? Should I edit like them? Should I shoot like them? Should I be like them? So then, when a workshop presents itself with photographers from around the world  (yes, world) as teachers who you hold on this pedestal, you go. You go and you expect to learn the secrets. To learn the things you don’t know. To find the key.

As I sat through 2 days of sessions I learned a few things. I learned that I am a 34 year old tired mom. I am not a 24 year old hipster. I am jaded. And not in a bad way, but in a way that I have lived through my 20’s and while I hold constant dreams and aspirations, I understand and acknowledge reality. (And yet, there’s magic in those 20 somethings’ eyes that I’ve lost and maybe need to find again). I also learned that there actually isn’t a divide between the well knowns and the not well knowns. The actual difference between all of us isn’t skill, or talent, or knowledge one has that the other doesn’t. The difference is fate. The difference is right place and right time. The difference is being true to who you are. These tremendously talented and awesome photographers shoot for who they are and who their clients are. They don’t try to be someone they’re not. They don’t know everything there is to know about photography (in fact, I think I can safely say I know a bit more than a couple of them (– and likely a bit less than some of them). They haven’t been in business for decades; some only for 2 years. They are people. They are artists. They’re just doing their thing like any other photographer.

So, what I left with was that I am pretty awesome myself, just like those bad ass famous photographers. Do people know me around the world? No. But I know what I’m doing. I have the technical skills, my learning curve is no longer so big because I’ve learned so much, but have so much more to always learn. I have the business skills. I have the incredible clients. I have the passion. I just need to keep doing me. I need to keep giving. To keep being kind. To look within when I feel the need to look out.

I left with exciting ideas. Some I may never share with anyone; some I might. I left with new personal and professional goals that will undoubtedly help me continue to grow as a person and a photographer.

I learned that I’m good at what I do and so is everyone else. Just keep being you. Keep doing you. This is where your joy lies. Cheers to you and your talent. Don’t compare. We will all find a different formula. We’ve all had a different path here and a different path in front of us. That other photographer’s journey isn’t yours. Write your own story and continue to be true to who you are. This will lead to success. Oh, and remember that success is also defined differently for everyone. Find out what it means for you and do that.