It’s a rare occasion that you get to compare your work to another photographers that you admire on this level. I had recently shot alongside a fabulous photographer at a styled shoot. We had the same subject, same light, same details… heck we even had the same camera and film stock. So when her photos posted online, I scoured them thoroughly. Sometimes when looking at a superstar’s portfolio, I can’t help but think, “I could shoot like this if the centerpieces I shot were three thousand dollars each too.”
Three days later I got my own scans back and I opened them to compare. They weren’t as good. I deflated. “Dang it!” I said. Raffi looked at me and asked what was wrong. I told him and then he assured me mine were perfectly fine.
I sighed. “Perfectly fine isn’t how I get better. I get better by being realistic about my work.” I opened her images and placed mine side by side. “Okay,” I thought “her angles are straighter… I just need to clean that up in Photoshop… and her whites are brighter… I can fix that in Lightroom too.” Mere minutes later, I had a group of photos that I was MORE happy with than I would have ever thought.
You won’t get better by lying to yourself. You also won’t get better by beating yourself up. You get better by being honest with yourself.
What is Self Awareness?
The best definition I’ve found was from a TEDx Talk from Tasha Eurich: Self awareness is the ability to see ourselves clearly.
Most of us think we know what that means, but we really don’t.
Some people believe that by being self deprecating, they’re being self aware. Saying things like “I know, I’m a terrible person,” when really, they’re just giving themselves permission to do something they know is wrong.
Some people believe that it’s simply acknowledging their failures. Maybe they say, “I know cheating on that test wasn’t the best but…” when really, they’re just justifying their behavior and giving themselves excuses.
Self awareness happens when we stop telling ourselves stories and we start facing facts. We stop adding in our own salt and pepper to the story, we cut out our own personal narrative, and we start getting real with our own actions and the real reasons why we do what we do.
Why Be Self Aware?
Being self aware can be uncomfortable at first, but ultimately, working through it can be very freeing. Self awareness is key to developing emotional intelligence. When you know who you are and what’s important to you, you have the ability to shape your life in a much more healthy and realistic way. All the lies you tell yourself to comfort yourself or get you through the day are all just clouding your path towards being the best version of yourself.
In 2014, I was at a point where I was absolutely irritated. I had been working at my photography business for years at that point and it still hadn’t taken off. I was nowhere near quitting my day job and I was watching other photographers run circles around me. “I’ve literally done EVERYTHING I can think of to grow my business!” I would cry to my friends… but one day, I stopped. I woke up. I said, “Have you? Have you really? Because if I remember correctly, you’ve taken a nap every day this week and woke up to snuggle your son on the sofa, watch cartoons, have dinner and then spend a precious thirty minutes doing something small like re-editing old photos or looking up website templates you can’t afford.” The absolute truth was, I WASN’T putting any effort into my business. Was napping and spending time with my son bad? No, not at all! But I was denying the truth so that I could live in the victim zone.
Self awareness wasn’t me realizing the truth and using it to say “I SUCK! I can’t believe myself! I’ll never get it right!” It was simply telling myself the facts. “Right now you are giving self care and motherhood a precedence over photography so it stands to reason that photography isn’t on the level you’d like.” Right or wrong had nothing to do with it.
With that information, I could see clear enough to either keep on that path or make some changes to help further my photography.
How Can You Practice Self Awareness?
Ok guys, I should let you know, I’m not a self awareness expert by any means, so if this is an area that interests you, I really encourage you to watch some videos on the YouTubes and read some articles online to help further your education in this topic.
Hopefully that got you on your way and I’ll see you tomorrow for day 98: Answering your questions. Then on day 99, we are going to pick up on this topic again and take it a bit further to help find genuine confidence in yourself.
|Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris|
Hey. Do you mind if I tell you a story? One you might not have heard. All the elements in your body were forged many many millions of years ago in the heart of a faraway star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space. After so, so many millions of years, these elements came together to form new stars and new planets. And on and on it went. The elements came together and burst apart, forming shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings. Until, eventually, they came together to make you. You are unique in the universe. There is only one of you. And there will never be another.