Forewarning: It’s a long one.
And so we begin the SOAR! Photography Exercises ladies! Each month, beginning of the second week, I will post up a different photography exercise for all of you. Over the next few days, you will get to see Rachel, Charisse and Ali’s share their results and process. And then we especially invite you to post up your own results at www.soarority.com! The first photography exercise starts with Doing the Deeper Work. It’s not a technically focused exercise, but it is one of the most important (and painful) exercises you must do when working to become a better photographer.
Directions for Photography Exercise #1
The first SOAR! Photography Exercise is a Self Portrait Photography Exercise. You will take TWO Self Portraits. One image will have you in the photo. The second one will be an object that symbolizes you. Both Self Portraits are meant to document where you are in your journey of life. When you think about this present season of life–this monumental moment in your journey of being committed to SOAR!, being on your way to become a successful photographer…How do you feel? Are you excited, afraid, alone? What colors are you wearing? If we saw your true insides, what would they look like right now? What object would symbolize this time in life? What angle would you shoot it from and why?
You can do this photography exercise in different ways. You can either set your camera on a counter top or tripod and use the self timer to photograph yourself. Or, you can collaborate with someone you trust. I have done Self Portraits where I set the timer, but I often like to work with Brian. He is a safe person for me to share “what this is that I want to convey”. He and I talk together, and we find a way to best express my idea in an image. And then he shoots it, or I shoot it when I’m alone.
This is one of my Self Portraits right now.
I couldn’t help but feel drawn into how meaningful this photo is for me. These last six to nine months feel like I’m breaking a trail into new territory for myself, our business, our family, all the above. Even though the trail blazing is exciting, all the newness can often feel cold because it’s simply unfamiliar. Some days I miss the comforting warmth that familiar paths and places bring. But at the same time, I’m determined to bundle up and move forward. I can’t help but move forward.
If you think I cheated because you can’t see my face in the Self Portrait, how about this one?
‘What is going on? What is this a picture of?’ you wonder. This is me CLINGING to the side of a sail boat a couple weeks ago in CA. Remember my word for 2011, Adaptability? Well, this is me trying to find my balance on a paddle board as a personal Adaptability exercise. I went from skis to a paddle board. Ha! I was so wobbly on that paddle board that it was all I could do to hold on to the sailboat for dear life (which didn’t help my balance AT ALL!). But this photo is an incredibly accurate Self Portrait of my life right now. It’s a good reminder for me of “what is so” in regards to our first Business Coaching SOAR! Exercise last week. What is so? I’m on the board. I’m not standing on the dock any more, wishing I had the guts to try this. What is so? I’m scared to death but I’m also laughing and having fun. What is so? Falling in the water is cold but not the end of the world. What is so? The board will still be floating and ready for me to get back on again.
Six months from now, I hope to look back at these two Self Portraits and see that I’ve found more comfort in this new season of life because the new surroundings aren’t so cold and unfamiliar. The coldness isn’t as threatening as it feels. The paddle board of life is still floating, and I’ve managed to not only let go of the sailboat but even go exploring. Maybe I’m not standing. Maybe I’m on my knees. The important fact is that I’m no longer next to the dock–hanging on for dear life. Growth. We all experience it, but unless we take a moment to pause we often miss it.
The logistics and technicalities are not the issue with this photography exercise. The vulnerability and honesty are the heart of this endeavor.
I’ll warn you now, we will do this exercise one, maybe two more times, over the next year. You will be amazed at how much you have transformed. To see the transformation, we need a starting point. The starting point is the hardest place to expose. But ladies, it’s worth it. In fact, if you have time look at the transformation that happened in last year’s SOAR! Recipients (Linda, Jennifer and Lindsay). When it comes to seeing change and growth in ourselves, we often have to see it to believe it. Anyone hear me?
What do I do with my Self Portraits, once I have them?
Once you have your Self Portraits, we invite you to post them on the SOARORITY forum. I’ve started a new thread for this photography exercise with specific directions on what to do with these Self Portraits. Yes, you will do something with them as a group on SOARORITY. I’m sure it will be very powerful.
Do I have to do this Self Portrait Exercise?
I can already feel some of your shoulders tense up as you read this. ‘A Self Portrait Exercise?! I don’t want to do that! How is that going to make be a better photographer? What does that have to do with SOARing?’
The answer ladies…everything.
There are thousands of good photographers in the world. But I believe that to become a GREAT photographer, you must first go deep within–and not just once but over and over again. You must do the deeper work of making yourself vulnerable, before asking a client or photo subject to be vulnerable for you. You can only lead someone to feel as comfortable in front of the camera, as you are in front of the camera. But it’s not just about being in front of the camera. It’s much more.
I would like to start the year by saying, SOAR! is not a sole pursuit of being a great photographer. SOAR! is so much more. It’s about tapping into your Feminine Wisdom, discovering what those two words even mean, and how they will help guide you into building the business you want. It’s also about becoming not just a Photographer but an Artist. If you are an artist, the world holds endless inspiration for you. If you are only a Photographer, you are already limiting yourself.
Strive to be an Artist: a woman that is not only creative with her photography but with how she structures her business, how she creates a daily life that brings herself and family fulfillment and joy, how she processes the beauty around her, and ultimately, how she translates this beauty for others. This is SOAR!
SOAR! is about calling out the Artist within you. But let me say that the artist is a child within. And if you stopped listening to this child years ago, it will be a beautiful and sometimes painful process to beckon her voice back in your life. And yet, to have this relationship restored–the artist child within and your adult self now–this is where your power will come from.
Julia Cameron writes, “The road to authentic art is through the self. More specifically, it lies through the heart, not the head. Your loves, your hates, your scars, glories, fears, losses, triumphs–your heart is the heart of the matter. Heart is where the art is.”
This exercise is not meant to be easy. If we didn’t challenge you this year, you wouldn’t grow. I feel convicted to challenge you in the ways that have brought me freedom, growth and ultimately, more success and joy than I could ever imagine. These “ways” are nontraditional when I think of all the information available on “how to be a better and more successful photographer”. But these ways, these journeys of self discovery, have caused me to stand with more confidence than I knew I even had. They have helped me SOAR!
But it all starts with humble beginnings. The kind of beginning that is uncomfortable but at the same time airs out the locked up places so new growth, powerful growth, can happen.
If it’s any comfort, last year Linda, Jennifer and Lindsay all shared that this first Photography Exercise was difficult and uncomfortable. Our current SOAR! Recipients are working their way through it now. You are not alone. We hope that this inspires you and helps you continue to feel safe and supported.
I know that this is a difficult exercise from my own experiences with it. But I believe in all of you. I know you can do it. And the reward will be amazing.
p.s. I’d love to extend the invitation I did last year. If there are any former Discovery Workshop ladies that would like to share how powerful this exercise was, please do! You can read about mine by CLICKING HERE! Tomorrow, Rachel will share her Self Portraits, Wednesday will be Charisse, and Thursday will be Lindsay. They are stretching their wings ladies. Posting these images is no easy task, and I applaud their willingness to do it.