Somebody asked me the other day how did I get from being a girl next door photographer to speaking all over the world. What was the path? and I’ve been sitting with this and letting it brew.
I found my courage ... to listen, to dream, to create, to grow
The Creative Release
It was through that courage that I found a connection to something so deep within me that when I create (and it doesnt matter if its an image, a piece of writing or a workshop) its like a release and one of the most freeing, liberating and fulfilling feelings I’ve ever experienced and it keeps pulling me forwards.
And, as I begin to unpack that question, there’s a couple of things that I wanted to share.
I remember when I first started out many moons ago, and doing everything I thought I ‘SHOULD’ be doing, doing all the things I was being told, doing the tech steps (that I really, really struggled to get) and learning all the ‘doing’ actions of being a photographer. Which was great in the beginning, I was learning and it was absolutely the right first step to take ... until you get so caught up in the doing that no-one is able to see beyond that.
None of this ‘doing’ gave me that creative fulfilment I was searching for on some level. Whilst it gave me a short to mid term fix and it brought me success, the doing didn't speak to who I was being as a creative, what I wanted to express, explore, discover, to the something deep inside me that I didn’t know what it was, let alone was able to express that was longing to emerge. It didn’t show me how to find my authentic creative voice and give it a space to be seen and heard.
I remember my first talk where I did a live shoot and was shooting into the bright light (apparently at the wrong angle) and being fiercely challenged by a delegate about ‘why?’ “You will ….” And they went on to list all the technical boundaries I was breaking in front of everyone. I remember feeling really thrown by this, and that panic and sinking feeling that I’ve done something really wrong and when I replied, "because it felt right", because, honestly I had no other answer, I remember the snorts, the muttering and my shrinking.
When I edited those images later to show everyone what I’d produced, that image was my absolute favourite, it felt so connected, so full of something that back then I was unable to put my finger on - it just felt right … it had a pull to it that I couldn’t ignore and so I put it in the final presentation. People loved it, they asked me how I’d done it and I smiled when I told them which image it was. I learnt then to follow feeling over the list of should’s (all be it quietly) and it all began to open up from here.
I was (and still am) a HUGE fan of passion projects (there’s a whole other blog on this that you can read here). Once I let go of the idea of approaching creativity from my head and what I thought I should be doing, I allowed my Self to play, express, explore and those passion projects were (and still are), safe spaces where I gave myself permission to fail, to break rules, to be messy, to get it wrong to get it right, to dance in the moment and play. As a photographer I would look back on some of my images and see the mistakes and then look at the next image and see how I got it right.
After every shoot I would celebrate first and give myself permission to love what I had achieved. After about a week to 10 days I would go back and look at them from a place of blameless discernment (and coming from someone who is their own worst critic learning to do this one thing has enabled me to evolve so much faster) and ask myself (and I continue to ask myself) … “so how can I grow from this, what did I do well, where can I stretch and grow? How am I holding myself back?” and I learn from here and take that forward into my next creative project.
One passion project after another, I felt so alive and the essence of this work, this passion, seeped though into my client work and I followed creativity from here.
As I continued speaking about my work I was asked, over and over “but do you actually make any money from this …” and a little part of me would shrink again, not because I wasn’t, because it was about something more, something so - much - more.
At the same time, somewhere around 2006, I was working with a really amazing healer - I’d been on antidepressants and wanted to come off them and she introduced me to somatic healing … listening to the body. It was all a bit ‘woo’ back then. I’d tried talking therapy and it didn’t work for me, no good when you can’t speak the words, but reiki and EFT did and this new somatic healing felt so right for me (there’s that word again - felt) and I was finally able to deepen my healing.
I became so aware of my body and my senses, and before long, I began to create from this space. It was through those conversations with my body that images came so fast and furious that at times I couldn’t keep up. Often times I would have two or three models and MUA’s on the go so I could create more and more images in one shoot and keep up with the images that were downloading.
I learnt to direct from this felt sense and to create from intuition, and models, who had worked with hundreds of photographers, would say that there was something different about working with me and how other worldly and alive they felt, how they grew too. My creative work evolved and took on a different direction and I began to find my authentic voice … without words, without speaking, without trying, simply by listening, connecting, feeling and creating.
My work began to touch people, to make them feel too, some said they would find healing in them and some that my work had woken a part of them up too. And it was here I l recognised that art has the power to do that when created from the heart - to touch people, move people, remind them of something bigger in themselves and inspire that feeling of connecting to something more.
Authentic creativity for me was two things … healing in motion and a spiritual practice. It enabled me to connect deeper to myself and the world around me and create more meaningful impactful work. It enabled me to let go of what was holding me back and get out of my own way on so many levels (there's so much more here to share in another blog or two) This deep connection rippled out through my client work (and still does) - only yesterday I had a call from someone who wanted to let me know that the images I had taken for them some 14 years ago still took them back to their wedding day and made them feel and remember how very special that day was for them (so if you're a photographer, thats the power of what it is to connect and create right there and what you gift your clients through your work when you get it right) He said “When we look at those pictures it’s as if we are back there and I can feel it all again” (there it is again … feel) and it's this deep connection that I both work with and enable in my coaching clients too, so they can too can create more meaningful work, find their voice, release their creative potential and have a deeper and more meaningful impact on their clients too.
The mutual journey, the ripple effect … the power of authentic creativity.
So in answer to that original question … I followed my feelings, my felt sense, my intuition, curiosity that there way another way (please, please, bring that open minded and open hearted stuff on by the bucket load if you want to grow creatively) and I leant into my courage (forget waiting for confidence as I didn't have that most of the time either) and I created from this space, in my life, my creative practice, my business and its taken me on one of the most wildest rides of my life, and I’m absolutely still enjoying the adventure. The roles I have had as a photographer, judge, mentor, qualifications examiner, speaker, artist, CEO, author, coach … they are simply the roles I have taken on to enable me to stretch, grow and evolve as I’ve become more and more connected with my authentic voice through creativity.
You see, I believe that's the one thing we are all looking for as human beings in one way shape or form - to feel connected to ur authentic self. I also believe that creativity is a part of who we are as fully functioning human beings and that we have, through time, become disconnected to this part of our Self. (I have another blog on that too) I also believe that as creative business owners we can only take our creative practice - our (he)art, our clients, as deep as we are prepared to take ourselves and that if we, as creative business owners are in service of our clients, then it is this deep connection that matters - not the best equipment (never had it) nor the biggest budget (never had that either) and that at some point we have to let go of the should, transcend doing and start listening, really listening, connecting and creating from here. And thats what I'm passionate about today enable others to create from this space too ... and its like electric.
And so my questions to you are - How are you bringing that connection into your work and creating with more meaning? How are you accessing your authentic self and that deep pool of inspiration that sits inside of you? How are you listening, to yourself, your creative practice, your clients? Are you listening?
Your (he)art matters, your voice matters and that magic that creativity has to offer you and your clients, and it is magic … well, it all starts with you.
Courage + Curiosity + Connection + Creativity = Magic