Buh Bye Sweet Comfort Zone

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Has anyone ever asked you to define ART? If not, take a moment and think in your head what your one-sentence answer would be. No googling! I was asked this question a lot throughout my education and early on my answer always had more to do with the people experiencing the art than the person who created it. As a musician, my art was for the enjoyment of the audience. Their interest in what I was doing meant more to me than the craft itself. This has translated seamlessly into my motivations when I am behind a camera. I love people’s reactions to my photos. I LOVE making people feel beautiful and capturing their joy. 

My weird little brain likes the challenge of the camera itself as well. Just like music, there is a lot of mathematical precision that needs to be fall in place before that creative bug can come up and bite you in the tush.  That is what makes the difference between owning a camera and being a photographer and it is an incredibly fickle monster for me so far. I assumed every shoot would get easier and easier and as my nerves settled, the magic would happen more consistently and surely every client would love the results. In the words of Donald Trump…… WRONG! Good thing most people would agree art has nothing to do with staying in your comfort zone. 

I had a shoot this past weekend for a local clothing boutique which already is outside my comfort zone. Most people ask me why I am “so dressed up” any time I am not wearing leggings so I cannot hang with the fashionistas, but I was excited for the challenge. I had done a shoot like this once before for another boutique and it went well. I arrived on time, the weather was decent, the models were lovely, and the store owner had a gorgeous store. 

The store owner communicated with me a few things she really wanted to see in the photos and what she intended to use them for. The girls got in their first outfits and away we went! Snap snap snap snap. Lots of smiles and laughter caught on camera so we headed back to the store to snag outfit #2 for each model. While the girls changed, the store owner asked to see some of the photos and I happily showed some to her. From the first three photos, I could tell I was not getting what she wanted and about 1/2 second later panic set it inside of me. I was hired to do a job and my natural instincts behind a camera were not getting the job done. WHAT SHOULD I DO?!?!? 

We chatted back and forth a few times that day trying to find a way to get exactly what was needed. The more we talked, the more I realized everything I usually do would not work for this client. I felt like a little sad balloon all saggy and deflated three days after a party. But, we kept going. The girls put on new outfits and away we went. I did my best to keep my client’s needs in mind and that created a really fun new challenge. I tried to think outside the box (the box I constructed entirely by myself and coveted so much). I took photos I would never have taken if it were not for the situation at hand.  

I wish I could tell you I had this perfect ending were I brought the photos back to my client and we both cried we loved them so much, but life does not really work like that. She was extremely kind (I should mentioned that she was nice about all of this the entire time) and pointed out a few photos that she did really like. She even sent me a really sweet text message the next day. But, my ego was wounded. I am so used to people just loving (or at least doing a great job at pretending) the photos I show to them and it honestly was a gut-check to have to work so hard for it.

My art is for the audience, but I know not every audience will be for me. I am thankful for the experience this weekend in so many ways. I was challenged. I got to work with awesome people. I took photos I am proud of that are really different from my usual styles. The BEST thing I can hope for is that I am continually challenged as I chase these dreams of mine. 

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  1. Steph says:

    I wish I could love this post 100xs. This is the exact reason I have not pursued photography – the fear of not being able to deliver exactly what the client I wish I could love this post 100xs. This is the exact reason I have not pursued photography – the fear of not being able to deliver exactly what the client wants. But I know that is sometimes just part of it! I think you handled it so gracefully!/feeling crushed. I hate that I’ve let that hold me back. I think you handled it so gracefully! And the photos are beautiful.

    • Michelle says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words and honesty! I like to think as I develop more and more of a portfolio, this particular situation will happen less because people will know what they can expect from me. It was not the most fun experience ever, but HEY I am still here! The worst that could happen went ahead and happened and it did not kill me so that is motivating in it’s own way;)

  2. Steph says:

    Well my comment got all jumbled up for some reason 🙁 but I think you get what I’m saying mostly ha.

  3. Carmen says:

    I love these shots. Very editorial!

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