Here I am struck with the idea to write. Week 9 into sheltering in place during a global pandemic. Writing is not my preferred medium, but quarantine times are different times.
And, just maybe, sharing a story will encourage you to do the same and a ripple effect will begin.
Ripple effects are a wonderful thing.
The biggest way I learned this lesson was during the spot in my photography journey when I had been messing around with cameras throughout high-school, college and was now attempting it as a side gig at the encouragement of the support system around me. Opportunities were showing up and I finally said yes.
It was a connection with a wonderful company that was full of women empowerment – I loved their energy, their mission, all the things. It was a dream. I was thrilled to be collaborating with them.
I showed up for the day of the shoot. We had lined up a handful of winners that had seen the biggest transformations and had won an empowerment photography session to document the thrilling milestone.
Every single woman was wonderful to work with. They were glowing from the inside out. So inspiring.
Internally, throughout the shoot, I was a mess.
I was calling my best friend to ask about settings on my lighting gear on my breaks. I was so intimidated by my role… second-guessing every pose, running overtime… feeling like the crumbiest photographer, not a professional, and not doing these amazing women any justice. I wasn’t good enough.
I finished the day. Edited my best. Delivered the images. I declined any future collaborations and told them to find another photographer. I stopped this dream dead in its tracks.
I had another job, this was just a hobby for fun, there was so much other talent out there, this wasn’t important… the list went on.
I focused instead on my other career, marriage, starting a family… all these I am still proud of to this day.
And when my second son was born, I found my camera and started to play.
If nothing else, just to document these moments. I had a sense that this was my last child. We also had some health scares so each moment and detail felt even more essential to capture. Just in case the worst happened.
Fast forward six years later, to an evening away at a business planning retreat. We were all goal settings for the future. It was my first weekend away from my kids since the second baby came. It was the first moment I was feeling a sense of purpose in addition to mothering.
There was a casual ice breaker at dinner asking “what are the other “pie in the sky” ideas you would like to pursue” or “what you might do in another lifetime”?
I threw it out without much thought – I would be a photographer.
Instantly, a lady at the table supported the idea.
“Of course you should! That session you did with those empowerment photographs years ago was so powerful, I will never forget them. Especially the one woman who has her photograph tattooed on her arm.”
Flattered and shocked, I was surprised to hear someone had an image I took of her tattooed permanently on her body.
And then the woman shared why…
When my client saw those photographs of herself for the first time, that was the moment she decided not to commit suicide.
People, ripple effects are powerful.
Whether or not we even know the outcome.
I am thankful someone was put in my path to share this story with me. It was a gift. It was an opening.
And the true ripple effect that had on me, she probably will never fully know.
When I heard this and any time I return to this story I get teary-eyed.
What if I haven’t done that session?
and what about all the other things I was too scared to show up for?
What if we say yes and it fails OR what if we say no…?
I would take this “fail” any day over the alternative.
Four years later, this and other touching stories I have the honor of documenting fuel me. This work matters.
If you are in a spiral of doubt, you will come through and then spiral again and come through. We were meant to bend and pivot. The trick is to keep following that curiosity and show up.
You can be insecure, feel unworthy, be critical, fall short of your standards, and still save an f+$%ing life by being you.
Just, SHOW UP.
and I will always be that friend you can call to check your setting if you need help to keep showing up.