I’ve come to the sad conclusion that I am never going to be the photographer that I want to be. I will somehow always fall short of my expectations. I will forever be more aware of those images I’ve either missed altogether or failed to capture adequately than those I’ve deemed successful. I will undoubtedly succumb to periods of self-doubt that will leave me questioning why I bother picking up a camera at all. And in my lowest of moments I may even come to believe that I have nothing to offer anyone.
Despite all these gloomy predictions, I remain encouraged by the realization that my failures are actually the stepping stones that will lead me towards a clearer, more compassionate form of expression. The trick is staying the course--not turning back to earlier glories or the comfort of what was, and not allowing fear, embarrassment, or overwhelm to paralyze me into staying where I am.
The best remedy that I’ve found for getting unstuck is so deceptively simple that it’s often overlooked: find something or someone to adore. I could easily replace the word adore with appreciate or love, but I like adore because to me it lends intensity to the experience, and reaches deeply rather than staying on the surface. The great thing about adoring is that the only way to do it wrong is to be insincere. Once you’ve latched on to anything that you can say in all honesty you adore, you simply can’t fail.
The other day as I leaving for a newborn session I had the usual pre-shoot anxiety when I suddenly stopped myself from going further with it. To talk myself down I reasoned that I know my equipment pretty well, and have a fairly good understanding of light. With only an hour until the time to photograph I’m not likely to learn any new techniques or dramatically alter my usual approach, so at that point the only thing left to do is keep my eyes and heart open, and diligently look for something to adore. I immediately felt so much better. I could handle that. I can adore!
It made a discernible difference in how the shoot went. An added benefit of being in the throes of adoration is that it slows you down. Getting to the feeling place of this wonderful state of being naturally inhibits the tendency to rush things. To adore is to savor every tiny nuance of the object of ones affection. And I think our best stories live within the sweet and sometimes quirky subtleties that make us who we are.