I found a few pictures from the very first engagement shoot and wedding I ever photographed back in 2007. Seeing these pictures brought up a lot of stuff in me. Bear with me as I process it all…this is going to be one looong post!
Technically, I see so many things wrong with these photos, I could pick each one apart. Really, they are terrible photos (well, for a person claiming to be a professional photographer anyway). White balance, lens choice, exposure, how I edited them…pretty much everything is wrong. I find it funny that at the time, I thought that these were pretty much the greatest engagement and wedding photographs that had been ever been taken. Ever. Seriously.
Back then, I had so much fun discovering what I was capable of creating. I loved every minute of it. I think that frequently happens to new photographers, they amaze themselves by the things they create, crappy as those photos might be. There is something about feeling like “I created this”. Even if it stinks, you feel a sense of pride that you did it.
What’s interesting to me is that now, years down the road, I am a much better photographer, in every possible way. I actually have good reason to get excited about the images I take, because most of them are pretty darn good. And I’m happy that I’m confident enough to say that now. But for whatever reason, that excitement of creating something, the joy of pushing artistic boundaries, the thrill of making something beautiful…it’s gone. And it makes me sad.
I guess when you turn something that you love into a business, you risk some of that spark going away. Money gets involved. Client expectations get involved. Pressure to do an awesome job creeps in. Fear of “blowing it” sets up camp. Stress over bookkeeping, contracts, accounting, taxes, assistants and making enough money to get by takes over.
And suddenly, photography (or whatever else it is you love) takes up only 10% of your time, and the business side of things takes up 90%. You spend so much time thinking and working on the business stuff that your camera sits in a corner collecting dust (mine literally is right now).
I know every artist goes through artistic seasons. There are times of amazing creativity and productivity. And there are times of drought when inspiration and joy in art have left the building. I think I can safely say that the joy of my job left about 2 years ago. I didn’t realize it until maybe a year ago when I seriously contemplated quitting photography all together and shutting down my business. Thankfully, I didn’t go that far.
Over the past few months as I’ve been on my Wild Goose Chase, I really truly feel that God has called me to stick with photography right now. (Side note: I have tried pursuing other areas I thought God was maybe leading me towards. Everything from volunteering to applying for other jobs and every single door has been shut. I still think I’ll do something else one day, just maybe not today?). He has shown me all the amazing blessings that this job has brought me and I truly am at a place where I am grateful for photography. I recognize and appreciate the blessings it has brought into my life. I am grateful for the doors it has opened and for the ways it has changed me.
So all that to say….since this is where I believe God has told me I am supposed to be, I’d like to get that love for photography back. I’d like to get excited at the possibility of photographing something or some one. I’d like to get that passion back. I’d like to like it again.
My very wise best friend asked me a poignant question about this the other day. She said, “Beck, how do you allow the Holy Spirit to inspire or guide your art? How do you let God into this creative world? How are you allowing Him to restore your creative heart?” Looooooooooong pause. Um, I don’t.
I have never prayed before a shoot. I don’t talk to God about my camera settings or ask Him for inspiration and guidance during a wedding. I don’t pray while I’m working or allow Him into this part of my life. That was a pretty big punch to the gut. I mean, this is my job
. I frequently spend 40-60 hours each week doing some photography related thing and I have shut Him out. I’ve been wrestling with why that is. I allow Him into every single other area of my life, but I have completely shut God off from photography. Well, no wonder I’ve lost a heck of a lot of inspiration and joy in this area of my life.
I have not let the Source
of inspiration and joy into this part of my life.
I had to sit with that realization for a while. I had to marinate in the fact that I have not allowed Him into a part of my life, a rather big part of my life in fact. And now I am suffering the consequences. Ooof.
And so now I’m tentatively crawling out from under the covers of a selfish little bed that I’ve made. Slowly, I’m starting out on a new journey. A journey to find joy in my art again. A journey to discover my artistic potential when I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me. I’m excited to see what happens if I allow God into this area of my life. My hope is that I’ll get that spark, that passion, that joy back that I had when I first started down this road in 2007. Who knows, I might even grow to become a better photographer in the process.