This video with words spoken by Ira Glass has been making its rounds on social media lately. Every time I see it pop up on my news feed, I watch it. It’s two minutes of total sense– it can apply to anyone doing anything new, but it’s especially poignant if you are in the creative industry. Here. Watch!
I’ve often told people lately that this journey, this ride of starting a photography business has been the most exciting and terrifying thing I’ve ever done. Outside of divorce and starting a new life as a single mom, it’s definitely the most challenging thing I’ve done. Even beyond training and racing a half-ironman. Because for me, the gap that Ira talks about in his monologue is the most frightening thing to face. And especially in this age of social media, comparison becomes our primary mode of existence. We see so much of what others are doing. Then we see what we are doing. And suddenly it all becomes less than anything else we see. Our minds become so cluttered with a ridiculous amount of negative talk and chatter, that it becomes almost impossible to see anything as it really is.
That gap always presents itself. Where I am and where I want to be are two very different places, and I suspect it will always be that way as long as I’m interested in growing (which I hope I am!). So it’s easy to come home from a session, look at the results of an hour or so of shooting, and instead of seeing the beauty, the growth, and the emotion, I abruptly encounter the gap over and over again until it becomes more of an abyss. Murky and bottomless. And it starts to represent all that I am instead of just a part of the journey I want to transcend over and over again.
And yet. And yet as a person who doesn’t always see herself as a ‘creative’, it’s a challenge to forge ahead in a mostly creative industry. Outside of the rules of exposure and composition and lighting and posing, there lies a very hazy and unsteady land of options and choices that are incredibly overwhelming. That is my gap right now. And you know, that’s okay. Because I’m learning, and it’s okay not to be perfect, and chances are there will always be something that I will find to be critical about in my work. And coming from a perfectionist, that is a huge statement.
I’ve talked about it before, and I know recognizing growth is the way to see the gap changing, shrinking, and shifting. My work now is very different than it was in January, March, or even August. Ira talks about producing a huge volume of work, and between May and now, I’ve taken well over 10,000 images. It is because of that investment in myself and this business that growth has been possible.
So if you are a new creative, an old creative in a new industry, or just trying to figure out what you want to do altogether, bookmark this video. And know that this isn’t always an easy journey; it’s worthwhile and amazing, oftentimes fun and exhilarating, but it isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s grueling and frustrating and heart-wrenching. Some days it’s all of those emotions within a few hours of time, and you’ll wonder if you might possibly be losing your mind. Instead of fighting the ride, embrace being a beginner and having so much potential unfurled wildly ahead of you. Gaps and all!
And take some time every so often to celebrate progress. You’ll be pretty amazed at what you’ve done. It was so hard to choose images for this collage, but I think what I love is the huge difference from my very first session ever in March (still shooting jpeg and AV!) to now (raw and full manual of course). Even from March to June was a big leap. And from then to November and December, I found ways to be more creative with emotional connection. And from November to December I trusted myself to shoot closer to sunset and avoid the harsh light from the image in August. Closing those gaps! Trust the journey, friends. You can do this.