Don't beat yourself up. It takes everyone time to know who they really are.
I was sitting at my computer desk in our tiny studio apartment with a cup of coffee I've reheated twice already while staring at photos I shot just a few years ago. Thoughts of "this isn't my style anymore", "your work really wasn't that great", and "what was I thinking?" came shouting down the stairs of self-doubt and self-worth as I stared at my own work.
As I sat there on the first day of 2018, my girlfriend said these words...
"Don't beat yourself up. It takes everyone time to know who they really are."
That's when I realized two things: she's right (more often than not), and I can pivot my branding image to gear towards my target audience without feeling a sense of guilt. There's nothing wrong if I wanted to re-edit my old images to represent my current style and change the way I approach my work.
I took this approach by going through my set of images from a styled shoot I did with the very talented Pia Floral Design three years ago, and decided to re-edit them to reflect my current photographic/editing style which you can find here. (You can also see the original edit in my original blog post here.) After seeing all my re-edits, I was in love. But it wasn't always like that...
To take a steps forward, I'd like to break this down a bit further...so if you're still with me thank you (you're the coolest).
Here's some personal and business truth:
My photographic style in the way that I photograph and the way that I edit my photos have always been a constant battle for me as a creative. Everyone knows the old saying “you’re your own harshest critic”, and man, is that the truth.
When I first started out pursing photography professionally (heck, even just as a hobbyist) , I wanted to blend in. I wanted to make sure that no one would ever tell I was an amateur. My goal was to always just take photos and make them appear to be just like everyone else; to appear like I knew exactly what I was doing.
I felt like a total fraud. And while fraud-ism is totes-for-realzzies a thing, I really did (and sometimes still do) struggle with this.
Back then, I would mindlessly scroll through Tumblr because that's where I was hanging out way before Instagram! I would "heart" everything I aspired to be and appeared to be. This was great for inspiration, but not so much for my own work as a photographer.
Okay, before you go "That doesn't even make sense. You said it was 'great for inspiration', why wouldn't it work for you as a photographer?"
Well, for starters I would do what a lot of other people do (fun fact: it's not only creatives, you guys)…can you guess it?
It's the killer of all dreams. COMPARISON.
Comparing my work to these well established, award-winning, loved-by-all photographers that had it all figured out. I was so upset that I wasn't up there on the mountain top celebrating all of the achievements, dressed in pearls and clinking my champagne glasses with the rest of the big dogs. Don't ask me why I picture them all in pearls...I'm just saying!
But now looking back, I'm glad I went through taking horrible photos. I'm glad I went through not knowing my editing style, because that helped me figure out who I am as a creative. It helped me create with more intent.
There are still days I struggle with my Instagram feed from looking pristine, color coordinated and oh-so-pretty, but you know what?
I've learned my work has evolved and will continue to evolve. I've learned that it's okay to look at other people's work with hearts in my eyes. But instead of looking at them with eyes of comparison, I've chosen to see them with eyes of aspiration to just be a better version of myself. Be a better photographer, a better creative...a better human.
So, to wrap this blog post up, I wanted to say one last thing.
I titled this blog post "Branding: Scary Notes About Changing My Style" because it is scary. It's scary to show up with my heart on my sleeve. And while this may be a zone of comfort for some of you, it's a new territory for me.
I want to say that I thank you for being here. Thank you for allowing me to showcase my work on your desktop, smartphone or on the walls in your home. It truly means the world to me.
Thank you for allowing me to show up again and again as I am: changed or unchanged.