When I Almost Put My Camera Down | Don't Let Fear or Perfection Hold You Back

When I first started my photography business, it wasn’t a “business”. Heck, it wasn’t even a hobby.  At least—taking pictures of people wasn’t a hobby. To me, driving around in the country or taking pictures of new, pretty things was more my hobby. But ask me how to use my camera, and my stomach dropped.

I literally can remember my soon-to-be-father-in-law (at the time) asking me at a NMSU football game how to use his camera, and I felt like an imposter. I was so embarrassed that I literally had no idea how to use my camera, although, I brought it to football games and everywhere I went to photograph in...wait for it: auto.

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Why Perfect?

Why did I feel like an imposter? Why did I feel like I had to be perfect? Was it because everyone knew me as the girl who loved photography? Because I had already set unreal expectations before myself and the unfulfilling, dark road of perfection? Clearly, I should’ve extended grace to myself in this moment, because 1) I was in school for something OTHER than photography 2) I wasn’t getting paid to do what I was doing 3) I just liked taking pictures without the pressure! Lindsay, give yourself a break, sister!

Pictures for Pleasure

But over time, I continued to take pictures without expectations, just pure enjoyment. I would drive around in the country at home or out toward the Organ Mountains in Las Cruces with my music blaring, windows down, until I found something that moved me. That might sound silly, but to me, seeing God’s creation on country drives and then translating them to digital images is one way that stirred my affections for the Lord. It was and still is a sweet gift He’s given me.

Yes, at the time, I was still shooting these in auto ;-) No shame. 

Pictures of People

It wasn’t until my roommate suggested I take our other roommates’ engagement pictures that I had people in front of my camera for an actual “session”. I did what every new photographer starting out would do, and I took their pictures one Sunday afternoon after church when the sun was blaring, and the shadows were at their harshest. I took Jess and Ryan’s engagement photos, and all I can remember from that session were: 1) how happy they were and 2) how much fun I had.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized they actually didn’t look like the photos I was trying to mimic on Pinterest or how I thought I was framing them. 

I recently listened to a sermon by Matt Chandler where he preached about society telling us that we have to be perfect at everything we do without working toward it.

I Almost Gave Up, Because I Wasn't Perfect

When I heard this, it brought back memories of deep frustration almost to the point of setting my camera down the first few months of launching by photography business. I literally almost quit, because I feared I would fail. Because I wasn't "good" at it. It was hard. It wasn't as easy as I thought it was supposed to be.

While the feelings of excitement toward this side hustle were always present, feelings of insecurity and frustration bombarded in quickly:

  • when I realized how my photos compared to Pinterest.
  • when I couldn’t produce the images I had in my head, and I had no knowledge as to why.
  • when I realized how my photos compared to the other local photographer’s.

I’m not kidding when I say that I remember staying up for hours and hours watching photography videos before a wedding one night, because I wanted my bride and her family to be pleased. I feared that I was incapable or that my work wouldn’t mimic what my brain thought I could do. I was afraid of failing. 

But you know what?

I wasn't capable. I wasn't capable of the perfection I held in front of me. 

I couldn’t walk out of my college bedroom with my camera that I shot in auto and photograph my roommate’s engagement session and create images that would be published in The Knot Magazine.  Or re-pinned 1047 times on Pinterest. I just couldn’t. I couldn't photograph my third wedding like Katelyn James without putting in the time, experience and little failures leading up to it.

It Doesn’t Happen Overnight.

I hadn’t spent anytime learning, anytime growing or anytime failing and getting back up to get me to where I currently was. 

It takes experience. Time.

There is grace. 

Society tells us we have to be perfect without the effort, and not only that, but that we can do it FAST. And that’s exactly what it shows us. We oftentimes don’t see the struggle; we don’t see the imperfection; we don’t see the frustration and grit that makes the journey extra seasoned in the end. And what can be most encouraging is seeing exactly that.

So, from the girl who almost put down her camera for fear of failing, for fear of imperfection, for fear of not being able to attain the images she imagined in her head--

Don't Miss Out

  • Don’t miss out on your journey of imperfection. This is where the lessons, satisfaction and grit comes.
  • Don’t believe the lie that whatever you’re pursuing will be met with instant ease, success or gratification.
  • Don’t forget about the journey, and don’t buy into lie that this journey isn’t worth it.
  • Don't miss out on the grace there is to constantly extend yourself. 

You didn’t learn to ride a bike overnight nor does a baby learn to walk overnight.

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Anything Worth While Takes Time

Some dreams, some callings, some destinations take longer than we hope and feel is comfortable, but God is not powerless to grow you into what He’s called you to do or what He’s made you passionate about.

Do I feel like I’ve arrived? No, I realize my journey is never-ending. However, I can say that I see the difference from where I started and where I am now. And while I may not have this similar fear before a wedding day, I can still get nervous.

I'm On YOUR Team! 

And I want to share about these nerves and how I pep-talk myself before weddings in a second blog post to this 2-part series. I'm hoping to encourage you with the hobby that is too afraid of failing or you with story too similar to my own: set aside your fears, lean into the imperfection and grow. You've got this. I'm rooting for YOU!

So in the meantime, what are you fearful about pursuing? What are you passionate about enjoying? Write this down and allow yourself the grace and time to pursue it. Dive into it wholeheartedly and push perfection aside, because the journey is where the beauty and growth is. Don’t let society tell you it can happen over night.