My Thoughts


How Photography has given me Confidence

Confidence is an interesting concept.  It can be viewed in so many ways.  People have so many different perceptions of what confidence can be, and each person has their own personal definition of it as well.   Over the years I have given fleeting thoughts to it.  Mostly I have observed it in others and though about how I didn’t have it in myself.  When I first started my career in photography I was lacking a lot of confidence in myself.  I was ok with sitting on the sidelines with a long lens snapping photos of my favorite subjects, (horses and people) but I really wasn’t too keen on getting up close and personal.  

I certainly would never go up to a random stranger and ask if I could photograph them.  And I never offered to provide a service for fear that someone would balk at my ides and consider that there was someone out there that was better for the job.  I was pretty sure that I would never survive the rejection.  I handled myself and my talent with kit gloves.  I advanced very slowly and reluctantly.  That is just my personality in general.  Some people are like hey look at me! I’m like the best photographer around!  And then I’m over here like “oh don’t notice me, there’s that guy over there that’s so much better!  Don’t buy my art, you may find something wrong with it down the road and regret you ever spent the money in the first place.”  I felt I needed to save people from what I had to offer.  Over time, with a lot of encouragement I got better at putting myself out there but the fear always lingered.  Years passed and I took courses and coaching and got better at seeing the value of my work, but behind that was always the fear.  I took the work that came to me and got more and more busy!  I believed that the outside world had a right to dictate what was best for me. I believed that if it crossed my path and chose me, it was what was best.  If it came easy, it was right.  I got so busy and overworked myself to the point that one day, during a wedding, I had a near meltdown.  I found myself complaining to a guest at the wedding that I was so burned out and exhausted and pretty much couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there.  Um, can we say incredibly unprofessional!  I knew it wasn’t right, but you know how it is when your emotions take over and there is no stopping the crazy train string of words that are coming out of your mouth.  Yeah, that was me.  I had taken on so much.  Never turning any work down because 1. I needed the money and 2. It was feeding my self worth.  Look at all these people that wanted me. It was all based on an illusion.  And the truth is I didn’t even know what the work was that I really wanted.  I had gone through thousands (and I do mean thousands) of dollars worth of coaching to “find my niche” and embrace the uniqueness of myself so that I could specialize in that place in photography.  I never really got clear.  I liked it all and yet I didn’t.  I wanted to specialize but I was afraid I would get bored or wouldn’t have enough work while living in a town of 200.  

I struggled with trusting myself and really allowing myself to fall in love with something because ultimately I believed that I would find out that I was wrong.  It was a total mind fuck on behalf of myself and myself only!  So as I was saying, this all lead to the dreaded burn out.  It looked a lot like loosing my hair and religiously having some major crying episode in front of my kids at the end of the every summer while pointing my finger at them for not being grateful enough.  Looking back now we all laugh but in the moment it was all too real!  


I shut down the weddings by raising my prices far above the local rate with an energetic warning that if your willing to pay that price, you get to be my client.  Almost immediately my wedding business came to a halt.  I went from eleven in three months to three.  I was relieved and scared all at once.  I was used to a lucrative income through out the summer, and I loved my brides and the wedding day but it was like eating chocolate for breakfast lunch and dinner. Eventually that thing that you love can make you sick.  But as I got more honest with myself, I also realized that I was still getting my self worth from bookings.  If people were booking with me then I had value.  If they weren’t then I was back to wanting to hide behind my unrelenting beliefs that I better change something about myself because all those people now liked that other photographer better.  I was a hot mess for a few years.  The rest of my business was still doing good but I was finding less and less satisfaction.  And there was this looming idea hanging over me that I couldn’t go on forever just being everybody’s photographer.  I knew that that was not what was bringing me joy.  I just didn’t have the confidence to even consider what really made me happy because I was so preoccupied with paying the bills and keeping up appearances.  I really did like driving my brand new diesel pickup!  

Well I realize this has been quite a long story and trust me, I am getting around to the point that I was attempting to make in the beginning.  How has photography helped me with my confidence?  

Initially I was going to talk about how it helped me become more outgoing and really embrace my gifts and qualities.  I figured I would touch on how it helped me put a price on my art and believe in its worth.  Just showing up for a photo shoot was hard for me.  I was so scared that I wasn’t going to get it right or I would forget something etc. etc. 

I overcame so much of that.  I came to love my work and I celebrated what a great job I did.  I loved being the outgoing person and making people laugh for the sake of getting a great image.  I loved seeing their faces when I got those images back to them.  I loved every minute of those moments when the fear and self-doubt had no ability to creep in.  

But when it did I didn’t know what to do. I had thoughts that there wasn’t much more to confidence than what I had overcome.  So why was I believing that my business was headed for a wreck.  I just didn’t have any more ambition to make it work.  I felt lost and unhappy.  I started to blame it on the fact that there were too many photographers around and I was constantly being undercut.  

Let me tell you, when this belief sets in you have reached the ultimate rock bottom.  I believe that we create every aspect of our life and if we fall into that belief we have sunk deep into the depths of true victimhood.  Placing your attention on the lack of your success because of what someone else is doing is the kiss of death!  I saw that but I kept on believing it a little longer. I just couldn’t get a grip.  

Coupled with all of this, my long-term love relationship that I had placed all stock in was falling apart and I couldn’t get a grip on that either.  The more it showed me it’s deep flaws, the harder I gripped to hang onto it.  Lets be honest, I brought new meaning to “white knuckling it”!  All of my safety and security was going right out the window.  And I was really close to going with it.  At the time that this relationship came to a close, I ended up helping some friends calve out about 900 head of cows, because they so graciously took my 40 head on at their ranch.  It was unexpected but that’s how the universe works.  Bringing you gifts and answers when you least expect it, in the most unsuspecting ways.  My experience is basically summed up in this text as a reply to my friend when he asked… “so how are you really doing?”

“I think I just went through a sort of universe pushing me out of the nest phase. I knew I had to make some changes and it always seems harder when you white knuckle through them which is what I did, instead of just letting things unfold. I feel like I’m a little more on the other side of the rapids and letting change just continue to happen, but getting started was rough. 

As far as pressure. I’m beginning to realize if it’s not easy (as in no flow), I’m fighting a current not meant to be fought. 

If I listen to the signs, my life flows easily. If I fight for what I think I want, it always seems to end in hardship.


I guess that’s what I mean about being pushed out of the nest. I was fighting for a relationship that was going against all of my better judgment. I learned a lot from calving this year. We brought close to 500 head of calving cows through the barn.  Amidst the weeks on end of below zero temps, I did not fight to keep anything alive. Actually, I was so rundown and beat down, that all I had left was to follow my intuition. Trust in a higher source. Put one foot in front of the other. We kept almost all the calves alive and I just kept moving. I went where my body took me to make sure everything was taken care of. It was a huge lesson for me. I always feel like I should be more of a success. More well known more blah blah blah but the truth is I prefer to sit in a lawn chair out in the field with my sheep.  And some of that is the recovery process of the last couple months but more of that is me just truly accepting who I really am.  I’m slowly seeing that my midlife crisis is looking a lot more like “accomplishing less” feels better than “OMG I need to rush out there and be the someone I was never able to be”.  I really feel like I have nothing left to prove. I’m not lying. This winter broke me open. A lot of the superficial seemed to wash away in a sense.  But that was a death, and I mourned it big time. Every time a part of me dies that I no longer need, I mourn for while. I like the superficial parts in a way. It helps me feel like I fit in to society more. I have always been scared of not fitting in. But that’s just a mirage.”

Looking back I see that I did not really know any of that until I wrote it. It was a hearty dose of reality and yet it relieved me. At that point I noticed that something was starting to change in me.  

Number one, I had come back to ranching.  Something I gave up after my divorce 6 years prior.   I was spending too much time in front of my computer and not enough time moving my physical body.  The other is that I was not giving back.  I was not apart of my community.  I was so selfish with my time because I was SO busy that I really didn’t want to give back.  And if I did it was mainly because I was going to get something out of it.  This too was changing.  

With the absence of all the weddings I had a lot more time, and like I said before although that was scary at first, it then became a blessing.  

I started to take part in a lot of things I never really made time for.  Having fun with my kids was a big one.  No one really knew what that was!  I was able to attend church here and there and I could meditate, make more time for friends and volunteer.  I started to ask myself, what did I really want in life.  I knew with the end of calving season coming, that I did not want to be done on the ranch.  I started thinking of other ways to still help out.  What did I have to offer them, that was unique to me that no one else could do.   

This started a long dialog with myself that resulted in some of my real passions rising to the top.  Being on that ranch almost gave me a total reset in my brain and I was starting to really recognize the things that I loved.  The scarcity beliefs that I was buying into were also starting to fade away and although at times I only had a few hundred dollars in my account I trusted that when I needed money it would be there.  And it was.  

I was no longer so guarded.  Learning how to calm so many protective mother cows after their babies were born was no easy feat, and I did get pretty good at it.  After that I really wasn’t bothered by too much and to be honest that really did boost my confidence in myself and how I was able to relate to other beings. 

As my ideas started coming to me about how I could make a living doing what I loved, I started to notice how much I had to talk myself out of believing that my ideas would not provide a viable income.  I started to realize that this would be something I would really need to examine in order to transition my business to what I truly loved.  I saw that working with agricultural people, and helping them with their small businesses providing marketing material and advice was a real passion of mine. But it wasn’t my only passion. I had so many more but and all linked back to one thing, Agriculture. I love the people in agriculture and I love working with them. From that space I began the negotiations with myself about how I was going to rebuild myself and my business with only the things that I loved! I vowed to allow myself the space to say no and say yes. And I realized that confidence comes from field experience but self worth lets you go there in the first place

We are cultivating confidence in certain areas but that only goes so far.  If we are still lacking the self worth the holes will become present.  Are we worth the abilities that we cultivate?

This was a bridge to improve my photography and be grateful for my adversity.

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