Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me.
All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there is this gap. For the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not that good.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit.
Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that.
And if you are just starting out or if you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you’re going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.
I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It takes awhile. It’s gonna take you a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just have to fight your way through that.
I feel that I closed the gap a little more this year. And that feels dang good! This year presented opportunities that I’ve taken by the horns and I’m proud of that.
Beautiful Natalie wearing Bentley & Lace
In February, I collaborated with the talented couture dress designer,
Bentley & Lace, to provide images of one of her new gowns for her website and marketing. This was a goal realized—I was thrilled to work with her to do the honors! Sweet Natalie was willing to brave the elements so that we could meet the designer’s deadline in time.
In March, I attended a local photography conference, PhotoLush, that enabled me to meet up with photographers from all across my region (Mount Vernon, Washington). I was honestly gobsmacked when a few photographers who I didn’t know approached me and expressed their admiration for my work.
“You’re Dana Chrysler! I have been wanting to meet you and tell you how much I love your work.” What a humbling experience! I say this because it was only a few, short years ago that I was the newbie photographer, intimidated beyond measure to be around all of the “experienced” photographers. Wow.
Also in March, I attended a workshop by
Paulina Duczman, someone whose work I admire beyond measure. There is something almost haunting about her images. I got to meet her, watch her work, watch her edit, and then spend my last night in California dining across the table from her and asking the questions I had thought years about asking!
When I think about it, I
could have been sitting at home that weekend. I could have been complaining about how my images don’t look like Paulina’s. But, an opportunity presented itself to LEARN and I took it!
In September, I attended the 2019
Portrait Masters Conference in Phoenix, hosted by educator/mentor Sue Bryce. What can I say? I am still incredulous that I was able to attend—it’s been a dream for several years. It was a week full of learning, networking, and socializing that I will never forget. I made new friends and was inspired and challenged to pursue what I love.
Is that me?
At the end of the conference, while many people made their way back to the airport to return home, I stayed and had my own portrait session with two photographers whose work is off the chart! Thank you, Saray and Cat at
Portrait Unforgettable! This session was years in the making for me. I wanted to celebrate 11 years being cancer free, as well as give a birthday gift to myself (really, it was a gift for my grandchildren). To view all of the images, go to my previous blog post. 😉
A month later, when I saw my portraits for the first time, both hands went up to my face and I kept saying over and over again, “Is that really
me?” I felt a little more confident, a little more alive. I can’t explain it and I don’t really want to. All I can say is that I wanted to experience what my clients experience, including the anxieties and fears about having one’s portrait taken. What I learned is that it is worth it. I am worth it. YOU are worth it!
In this blog post, I’ve highlighted areas of personal growth, but the biggest blessings this year have been my clients, those people who entrusted me to preserve their memories, whether it be senior, maternity, and family portraits, or engagements and weddings.
I want to thank those clients who reached out to me and honored me with their trust. You bless me by allowing me to create with you. I know and understand how valuable your images will be in one, five, ten, 20+ years down the road. To be a part of providing that for you feels like a calling, one that I am blessed to receive.
God bless us, everyone, in 2020.
Here is a two-minute video featuring highlights from 2019: