“I’ve never seen her smile or shine so bright,’ her mother said.
It was a Tuesday afternoon and a local Mom came in to pick up her photography order. She met me with tears in her eyes and she shared with me that the photos we created for her and her family sparked a new level of connection between them all.
Just a few weeks prior we had spent just an hour and a half at a beautiful seaside location documenting her family memories. Prior to our session the Mom had shared her concerns that her family may not cooperate, they weren’t excited about getting photos taken and she was already apologizing before we even started. I assured her she had nothing to worry about and her only job was to get her family to our session. 10 years in this business, it wasn’t my first rodeo!
It was the day of our session and the family reluctantly came out of the car, teenagers shuffling along, less than thrilled to be there, parents obviously feeling anxious already. I introduced myself to everyone and in my true chatty fashion began asking questions.
Within minutes it was as if I could feel the anxiety slipping away from Mom and Dad. I could see the teenagers begin to open up. But the crazy part was this family didn’t even realize what was happening, it was a natural experience because the environment felt comfortable. Within just the first few clicks of my camera, there were moments of smiles, real laughter, and dare I even say fun! We moved around the location and documented family memories, connections and conversations in a way that was full of ease, full of joy and even with a sense of relaxation.
It took me years to discover that while my eye for documenting emotional photography is amazing, that isn’t what created my successful business.
It was never about the prints, the albums, the slideshows or the wall portraits, although those are dear to my heart.
It is always about the connection, the feeling of safety, a sense of trust and vulnerability that I create with my clients, almost instantly. It is my ability to draw out people’s light in a way that makes them shine their true self in a way that they could actually see for themselves.
This mother shared with me she hadn’t seen her daughter light up the way she did in these photographs in months. She said she hadn’t seen her husband lovingly look at her the way we documented, ever. She said she didn’t know her son and daughter were actually as close as they really are which you can see in the moments of their laughter.
She is one of hundreds that I have had this experience with over the 13 years of that business. Parents would come to my studio to order prints and albums but somehow we would sit together over tea and they would share their worries about their daughters eating disorder or disconnection in their marriage or frustration with the education of their son. 99% of the time by the time we’d get to the ordering of photos I’d hear the phrase “I don’t know why I’m telling you all this but you’ve made me feel so much better and helped me immensely!” .. I’ve always said, no matter what, we always get what we need when we need it. Even if it looks different than we expect.
The memory of this mom came flooding back to me while I was out walking this morning and I realized there are threads that have been there throughout all the work I’ve ever done.
Helping people be themselves. Showing people just how beautiful they really are on the inside as well as the outside. In both photography and mentoring, it’s always been about helping feel safe enough to be who they really are. When they feel safe, they feel confident. When they feel confident, they shine.
The other thing I realized is, this isn’t something I sent out to ‘learn’ or ‘take a class on.’ it’s just my way of BEing. I have always been a nurturer, a caregiver, a cheerleader. I have always looked for the best in others and helped them see that in themselves. I have always been a lighthouse as a way to show others what is possible when they may feel as if they are being tossed around a stormy sea. I can’t turn that off, nor would I ever want to, but it was a pretty monumental experience to realize these characteristics have always been the driving force for me not just in my business, but in my life.
I believe that when we lean into our natural strengths, no matter what they are, we are able to connect more, serve more, create more and make a bigger impact. I’ve also witness how we are so afraid to actually own what we’re good at due to (false) society conditioning, (fear of what other people thing, or fear of being arrogant, or fear of being rude etc) that we can sell ourselves short and count ourselves out far too early.
What I’ve discovered is when we do fully embrace what we’re naturally good it, it skyrockets our clarity and confidence. Without that clarity and coincidence we find it difficult to take action. If we don’t take action, we don’t get results. The first step is acknowledging your brilliance!
So I invite you to ask yourself, what are you brilliant at? What do you do better than anyone you know? What totally lights you up? What feels like fun? It can feel so much easier to compliment or praise others but I encourage you to take just a minute today and ask yourself, what is one of your superpowers?
I’d love for you to share with me below — You never know who is watching and needs what you’re brilliant at!
I believe in you.