Oh what a year of it 2017 was! As well as the things I mentioned in my last post, I’ve made other quite big changes to my wee world.
This time last year, Donna Green Photography was little more than a notion. Oh I knew I loved taking photographs, had done for years, and I knew I often got some good ones, but I didn’t really know what to do with it all.
I knew how strongly I felt about families, people like you and me, having beautiful photographs to remind us of what’s really important in our lives when we’re up to high doh in navigating the chaotic maelstrom of work and parenting. I knew that it’s vital to have “proper” photographs of those who mean the most to us, because we might not always have these people or they might not always have us.
But did I believe I could actually do anything with this? Did I believe anybody would actually want my help in documenting what’s important to them?
Did I hell.
But at the same time, I knew I had do something with these beliefs.
Quailing at the thought of putting myself “out there” yet feeling at the same time I had the ability to provide something valuable, I started small. I decided I’d “practise” on some friends’ children and families and see where it took me. After all, it’s one thing catching some great images of your own kids, but the idea of doing this for other people petrified me at first.
What if I made an arse of it? What if I was so nervous in front of other people that I forgot how to work my camera? What if I didn’t have a good enough understanding of light and what, technically, makes a great photograph? What if the children in front of me were little horrors who wouldn’t sit still or do a thing they were told? What if, what if ..?
In short, I was crapping it.
And when you crap it, you have two choices don’t you?
You bottle it and walk away, or you shut your eyes, internally scream words at the top of your voice you NEVER want your children to hear you screaming , and just do it anyway.
Well. I’m here. *beams from ear to ear*
A year ago, feeling like the biggest fraud in the universe, I lined up lots of families I knew as guinea pigs and photographed them. And in the course of “practising” on these children and families, something changed – I no longer felt like a fraud. The idea was becoming reality. I was starting to crap it a little less.
I learned about light, I learned how to use my camera without having to think too much about it, I learned how to tell people what to do so they’d look their best in the photographs, I learned how to deal with children who maybe didn’t quite fancy standing “nicely”. I learned that looking “nice” is quite boring anyway and looking like themselves is so much more important. I learned how to find out what people really want in their photographs and what’s important to them.
And I learned how it feels when people look at my photographs of their family and say things like “that’s the best picture I’ve ever seen of my mum”, “you’ve really got her personality”, “they’re my favourite photos we’ve ever had taken”. (You can see some of the things people say about working with me here.) It feels wonderful. Like there’s a point to it all.
So I decided this had to be a bona fide business, not just a wee favour for friends. Not wanting to sound all evangelical and what have you, but quite simply, I needed to get this “out there”.
However, for it to be a business, I knew I needed a website and a Facebook page to actually reach people, and that was a real problem. See, the thought of that all made me feel a bit sick. People would SEE me! I wouldn’t just be emailing people their photographs behind closed doors, I’d be putting them in PUBLIC! *facepalm*
As it happened, last summer I accidentally published the Facebook page I’d been sitting on in draft for months. I was tinkering with it, again, because we all know tinkering is safer than actually DOING, right? And I must have accidentally hit “publish” because the next thing I knew, I kept getting all these “like” notifications.
I really crapped it then!
But you know what? If I hadn’t published it by accident, it might still be in draft. Because the biggest concept I was struggling with (and still often do) was “done is better than perfect”.
The weeks went on. I learned more and more by doing, and I threw myself into learning lots of business and marketing stuff, geeking out and learning an insane amount in a relatively short period of time. Joining professional groups focused on doing things similar to what I’m doing here changed everything for me, as was working one-on-one with quite simply the best coach I could ever imagine, and her community.
By summer 2017, I knew it time to take this venture to another level.
So I did. I wasn’t going to hide any more.
And because of “just doing it anyway”, a lot of hard graft, learning from fabulous teachers, and support and encouragement from home, I’ve been lucky enough to turn this business from a mere “what if …” notion to now working with lots of truly lovely people. I’ve hugely enjoyed spending time with them, I’ve got to know them, and I’ll see many of them again.
To all those who helped me on my way by letting me borrow your family to “practise” on, thank you. Thank you for letting me get the confidence and experience I needed.
To those in the photography communities I’m part of, thank you for your endless support and encouragement and never-ending great ideas. To all those who engaged me professionally for family photographs this year, thank you for letting me do what I love and making you happy. To Mr Green, thank you for the practical help you’ve given me, and for humouring me at the beginning when you hadn’t been entirely convinced this would work.
But it has worked, and it is working. And with all the plans I have for 2018, it’s going to keep working.
So to all those with ideas in their head but a fear of putting themselves out there, remember what that wise mannie Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re probably right”.
So what do YOU now think you can do that previously you were convinced you couldn’t? Tell me in the comments! I’d love to know.