I first started to allow artistic vulnerability to creep into my little life over a year ago. I was 29 years old and mom to a one year old. Becoming a mom flipped a switch in me that went from, “oh, but what will people think of me,” to “I’m over here doin’ to my thang – like it or not!” This period in my life released a surge of tension, self-judgment, apprehension, and sense of duty that I had shackled myself with for most of my twenties.
(I’ll add a side note here to be fair to myself, that I was afraid of becoming too ego-centric, which is noble (right?). However, I’ve learned pride needs to be kept in-check for any person, situation, or ability.)
So moving on…In January/February 2016 I started my photography business. I had been a self-proclaimed photography hobbyist since 2010, but now I was taking the plunge to deem myself “professional photographer” PUBLICALLY for the first time ever. And the scariest part of all was starting a Facebook business page and inviting people to “like” it. To my surprise, over 300 real people have agreed to this public “liking” ritual that has taken over social media.
No matter that reassurance I received via “likings” I continued to subject myself to the little booger of self-doubt. What kept me going through my self-doubt was the fact that I had ALREADY put myself out there. I realized over the course of that first year that I felt MORE ALIVE than I had felt in a decade (or ever). I allowed myself to… be me. Yes, I am a practical-by-nature person. I value safety and security and desire contentment. BUT I need balance. I am also a dreamer and doer. I like to get messy sometimes. I wanted to take my naturally passionate-self and let it burst at the seams instead of being restrained and held-back as I had taught myself to do for so long. I originally thought being vulnerable and allowing my passion to flow had to do with confidence….once I have x amount of confidence in my abilities, then I can show what I am made of. I thought that vulnerability without total confidence was the surest way to my demise. I quickly found this to be so far from the truth. When I consider the times in my life that I have experienced the lowest of lows, I realize what they have in common is that I remained overly guarded. I did not share the truest parts of myself and who I am. Now, choosing to be vulnerable opens me up to public humiliation and embarrassment AND it opens me up to JOY and LIFE.
I find myself today at the place of acknowledging the reality of “my place” in the photography realm. Let’s face it, my photography is far from perfect. However, I have realized that my success is not contingent on any one person’s approval. I know there are many, many out there that would provide judgement and harsh criticism to my art. And that’s ok with me. Because being an artist doesn’t mean fitting a mold or becoming a master. It has to do more with self-exploration and self-expression. It’s about showing your humanity. Being the person that you are and not being afraid to share that with the world. I challenge you to do just that. I will do it alongside you.
I’ll end with sharing a self-portrait session that I did right before my 30th birthday. You may have seen a picture or two from the session, but I’m including the entire thing. It was like a gift to myself – the gift of letting me be me. (Deep sigh). There’s nothing more refreshing than that.
Feel free to like it or don’t. Either way I’ll sleep easy tonight.