Don’t Look Down

I’ve been quiet these past few months. Quiet here on the blog, often quiet on Facebook, quiet on Instagram… and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about why that could be…

I love photography. I love teaching photography, I love coaching photographers, and I love the art form and the freedom and the inspiration I feel behind my lens. I’ve had the privilege of teaching thousands of parents why good photography matters and how to make it happen. I’ve helped hundreds of photographers get their businesses off the ground. You’d think I’d be feeling less… well… less afraid these days.

But here I am, grappling with a fear that I’m usually stronger than: the fear of not being enough. Every time I raise my finger to click “Send Client Gallery,” my stomach goes into knots. No, really.

This summer I had a disappointed client who shared some feedback that was especially difficult to hear: “We hired you because, you know, we wanted ‘Amy Tripple’ pictures. But when we saw our gallery we were like ‘Meh.’ Honestly, we should have just asked one of the many photographers we know and paid half what we paid you…” The phone call lasted a long time and in the end the client had gotten the message across. There was no place for restoration. I had failed to deliver.

It’s not that I haven’t had unhappy clients before. It happens. It has to. It’s impossible to think that everyone sees such a subjective product in the same light, and I’ve been able to accept and even expect it as part of our livelihood. We always handle these situations with as much grace and thoughtfulness as possible. Why this one has been harder to let go I’m not 100% sure…

In her book “Big Magic,” Elizabeth Gilbert wrote that she dreaded writing her next book after “Eat, Pray, Love” because she was terrified she wouldn’t be able to stack up to… ready for this? Herself. And yet, her second book, “Big Magic” is one of the most inspirational books I’ve ever read, and I know many who feel the same way. If Liz hadn’t bravely picked up her pen again to write this second book, I’m fairly certain countless lives (mine included) would be less fulfilling in many ways.

As we grow, so do the stakes. We raise our own bars higher and higher, expecting more of ourselves (and higher expectations of others) with each new level of growth and success. As our abilities increase, so does the distance we have to fall. And lately, all I seem to be able to say to myself is “Don’t look down.”

You guys, I’ve been so tempted to look down this year. I’ve been focusing more than usual on what the next painful phone call might bring, or how the next unhappy email might be worded. It’s all just been so scary, scary, scary… when it all should be some level of courageous and joyful. I coach photographers on how to move past these seasons, but I’ve been having trouble moving past my own. It’s a subject photographers rarely talk about but all experience if they’re committed to the field.

Anyway… a few days ago I was looking for a photo that I knew I’d posted on my FB photography page way back in 2010. It took a long time to scroll back through all the images, and as I did I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of genuine beauty I saw. Each image represented a touching, emotional moment that really, truly happened… one that meant something very special and had been snatched back from the edge of being forgotten. As I looked at each of over 1,500 photos, I remembered shooting every one. I remembered the emotion I experienced in every single time and place... and I felt courage and joy well back up inside me as though someone had simply turned the spigot back on. Just like that.

Why share all this? To be honest, I’m not completely sure. It’s possible that I’ve just written myself past the line of appropriate vulnerability, and if so, forgive me. I think I just wanted to pass on my experience as a reminder that so much of how we feel… of how we bring ourselves to the world… reflects what we’re choosing to focus on. Life settles back into balance when we pull our eyes away from the ground and onto what matters. This Thanksgiving, I will be focusing wholeheartedly on the joy of photographing you and your families when I think of my business. You’ve made me braver and stronger and I'm grateful now more than ever… it’s an honor to serve you and capture the connections you hold most dear.

All my love,

Some of the MANY pictures of you that grabbed my heart… couldn’t post them all or no one would get through them, lol…