This whole last year has been such a game-changer for me. I made a real effort to step outside of my comfort zone and focus on building a strong community of creatives around me. I'm actually more introverted than most people think.
I joined a 'business group' and started to reach out to other photographers (and videographers) locally in my community. I even got more confident and reached out to people who lived internationally, just to make friends. Nothing more. I didn't have any expectations, I didn't want people to think I just wanted to friend them in order to 'get all their secrets' (which surprisingly happens a lot!) Note: Unfortunately not everyone has the best intentions.
I went for coffee dates, did fun collaborations, Skype dates and attended events. It was and still is SO amazing. I realized in my first year that I really missed having colleagues and people around me who were passionate about the same things. I was looking for someone who can nerd out about editing, new software, talk growing pains, and of course geek-out about photography as a craft. I needed my tribe and I felt deeply alone and really nervous to dip my toe in to a community of people who were suppose to be my "competitors."
With "The Rising Tide Society" and an army of beautiful people out in the world, the #communityovercompetition trend was birthed and paved the way for more photographers to work together instead of against each other. It made me feel more connected to the art community and really my craft in general. It made me appreciate the differences we have and the need to stick true to the voice and style I have instead of getting caught up in the trends of photography. It can get super confusing when you admire someones work who is so different from your own! #thestruggleisreal The more we emphasize our own individual voice the more we stand out, it also diversifies the community of professionals allowing for more authenticity, and creative options for our clients. We do a disservice to ourselves, our community, and our clients when we stop being US and start trying to be something we are not. Intentionality, authenticity, and community is everything, at least that is what I am starting to understand more and more.
As I come off of this incredible trip from Vancouver as well as coming off the creative high that tends to happen after attending a conference- I am just filled with joy. How cool is that only a few years ago that none of this even existed? How cool is that I have amazing friends who will travel to Canada to hang out with me and work out of coffee shop for 4 days? How cool is that I feel like I have friends planted all over the world who share the same passion as me? How cool is that I get to take photographs for a living and share peoples stories? It is the coolest and it is best shared with people who value it too!
As the haze of confusion lifts (which apparently is a thing with conferences) I am re-uniting with my "why" and I am easing up on the pressures to be so many other things that aren't well-me. I can only be myself. I love shooting more airy even though I have a huge love for more moody photography. I can keep growing, learning, expanding my knowledge in my field but at the end of the day there is only myself, the life I want to create, the person I am striving to be, the art that I want to share with the world, and the people that I get to share the journey with.
Keep doing you and reach out to your community. There are people there who want to connect with you and sometimes you just need to be vulnerable and take that first step. I promise you it is worth it! My life has changed for the better and I honestly don't know if I could have done it all by myself and really; I actually don't think we are ever meant to.
to community + friendship,
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