I’ve always been shy if I’m out of my element. Put me in a room full of my friends, I’ll talk your ear off and crack jokes at a mile a minute. Put in me a room full of strangers and I’m more likely to be cowering in the corner hoping that no one talks to me. It’s a wonder that I have friends at all;). I’ve worked hard over the years to stiffen my fear of rejection and new situations, but make no mistake, it’s been hard work.
When I got my first real job working as a news photographer I could hardly believe it. This was my DREAM job and here I was living it out! I was still in college at the time and felt incredibly inadequate working at a Pulitzer Prize winning paper! My co-workers were talented, experienced and good at what they did. How could I possibly do well, let alone compete, in such a competitive and talented field?
My first assignment at the paper was to photograph the damage of a massive river flood. I brought my images back to my mentor/employer and I thought I might die. I did NOT want her to look at those images. Surely she would fire me on the spot I thought. But instead, she told me what worked, what didn’t and then told me to go out again. Shoot more. In other words, go find my voice.
Despite my insecurity, my editor saw something in me. A shy, inexperienced photographer who lacked confidence in herself but who had a passion and desire to grow. Slowly but surely, I worked hard. I challenged myself and I began to find my voice. I began to find confidence. Four years after my editor first hired me, she pulled me aside.
“I remember when you first came to us. You were this shy quiet girl. And now here you are, winning awards, going after stories, confident.”
I’ll never forget that conversation. Because she was right. Being a news photographer gave me a confidence in myself that I had never experienced before. I had to talk to be people, I had to be forward. I had to encounter awkward and difficult situations. And the more I had to do that, the more sure I became of myself and of my work.
When I decided that I wanted to be a wedding photographer, that all changed. Once again I felt like a fish out of water. Here I was drowning in a sea of photographers. Photographers who were all talented, experienced, and good at what they did. How could I possibly do well, let alone compete in such a competitive and talented field?
And if I’m being totally honest, there are times that I can still feel this way. Five years later, what I’ve realized is that finding your voice doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gut wrenching, raw and honest process. There is beauty in the journey and lessons to be learned along the way. While I am more sure of who I am and what my purpose as a photographer is, I am still learning and growing. There is still much to be discovered.
If you find yourself struggling to find your voice, don't give up. Take the risks, stretch yourself, learn something new. You may just look back five years from now and be amazed at how far you've come;)!
Repost from here.
Image by Shyla.