learning to spot my own path


This past week a lovely newly engaged gal approached me about shooting a wedding the fall of 2015, over a year away.  And I politely and honestly said that her guest list was too big for me and that I just wouldn’t be the right fit for her special day.  A beautiful October wedding at a local golf course….I seriously thought about it.  And some might think I’m crazy for saying no to four weddings the past few years.  What an opportunity!  Weddings are what every photographer wants to do, right?  It’s where the big money is!  You would make an awesome wedding photographer, Stacey!  I’ve heard all of this.

The truth?  I love shooting weddings.  I’ve shot four of them now, two as a second shooter and two as the primary.  I love telling love stories through photographs.  I love documenting such an important and special day.  I would love to shoot more weddings.  But small weddings, where I can do what I love to do, tell a story.  Where I don’t have to stress out too much about family photos and wedding party photos and renting lenses because that church won’t allow me to get up close with my favorite prime lens.  Where an untraditional couple would appreciate my documentary style approach to their day.  That’s why I’ve said no to four weddings the past several years.  Because I’m trying to spot the path I want to take, my own path.  Not the path someone else thinks I should take.  Not the path to score a great opportunity or to make more money. But the path that makes me feel creatively full.

It’s not always easy.  I second guessed myself after turning down that wedding.  Stacey, you could do it.  You could have a friend shoot it with you.  It would be a chance to grow in your skills.  You might even be forced to learn how to use that Speedlight.  It would be a good challenge for you as a photographer.  But no.  No.  Even though I know there would be parts of it I would probably really enjoy, there would be the other parts that would cause me extreme anxiety and that I would just strongly dislike.  It’s why I don’t do super posed family portrait sessions.  Or why I’ve been leery to say yes to senior photos. I’m not saying no because of fear or insecurity or because I don’t think I could do it.  It’s because I’m not passionate about those things.  I believe you don’t have to do things that you don’t truly love to do to challenge yourself.  Doing things you love can be just as challenging.  And it’s okay to say no and wait for those things.

I did say yes to another wedding this summer.  A small intimate gathering being held at the bride’s parent’s home.  I spotted the wedding that I know fits with me and my creative scope.  It feels right and I’m very excited about it.

It’s a process….looking through the view finder and seeing all of the choices in front of you.  Feeling overwhelmed and pressured to try them all out.  And then learning to to spot the right path for you and what you were created to do.  I’m learning.


georgia - i think you are brave even to do small weddings. but i’ve seen your work, so i know why you do. those are perfect for your style. wish you had been around for my wedding… or that i knew you then. i’d have flown you here! hoping i can find my own path in photography soon. these days, i’m just happy to pick up my camera, which can seem daunting at times for me. looking forward to seeing the wedding you do this summer.

Laura - You’re speaking to my heart, lady. I’ve done a couple things lately that I’m not super passionate about….just to stretch myself. And it’s been stressful and frustrating. I’d like to believe that saying yes to things we’re good at is best. It’s like the educational insight that we should focus on student’s strengths more than their weaknesses. Makes sense, I think. I’m certainly pondering it. <3

Jean - This is why I like you! I understand & feel the same. I like small & intimate gatherings. :)

Heather M. - I admire and respect you so much, Stacey. xo

michelle - I know exactly what you are talking about here and you will be so much happier following your own heart. I’m not sure if you know who Shauna Neiquist is but she’s an author I read. She wrote a blog post yesterday that sounds like this same kind of thing. I think you’d like it. http://www.shaunaniequist.com/‎ :)

Andrea - You’re lucky to have been asked to shoot so many weddings! What a huge compliment even if you did turn some down and choose what was right for you and your path.
I’ve been asked to do a wedding and senior portraits and I’ve turned it all down for fear of failing.
Your photography is gorgeous. You tell amazing stories with your photos. You have a gift that not many have.
Keep on heading down your path. :-)

sara - i get this. i get you.
proud of you for knowing when to say no.

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