Thursday, May 16, 2013

Portland Fashion Photographer: Work Hard and Be Nice to People

I work with hundreds of people every year, between actors, models, agents, designers and various other clients. It would be overwhelming if I tried to analyze and break down the actual numbers.

With the blessing of more work, comes more responsibility and inevitably, more stress.

Working with hundreds of people throughout the year means that I come across every personality type imaginable. People I click with and love, people who confuse, but inspire me and more rarely, unpleasant people who I will quietly and professionally decide not to work with again. Not everyone is nice and I know that. So I try and choose to let go and move on. (There are exceptions to my patience, but we'll save that for another blog post)*

I'm very lucky, however, to be surrounded by some respectable businessmen and women, who have and continue to instill in me a quiet perseverance and hope that things always eventually settle themselves. Like karma, situations always seem to balance themselves out in time.

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An important lesson to be learned a million times over- is the lesson of protecting one's own mental health. I think that for those of us who are passionate and in LOVE with our work, losing ourselves in our work is a common theme. It's both our greatest asset and greatest torment.

Being passionate means that I am the kind of photographer who will overextend and go the extra mile for a client- just to ensure a beautiful product, something I am proud of, something I can stand behind. I have a strong voice, but my reoccurring clients echo the same assessments about my strong work ethic, positive attitude, artistic vision and strong communication skills.

I gladly extend myself, because I love what I do. 

I am hyper aware of my work-obsession however, so I frequently and faithfully set time apart for my personal life, which means a space and time exclusive of absolutely ANY work. I do this in order to maintain my spiritual responsibilities as a "present" mommy, a good friend and an overall aware being.

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(I was laughing so hard at this ecard quote, so I made my own poster... photo taken for EG Page)

Running is a way of taking care of my mind, but so is turning my phone off at the end of the day or taking Sundays to myself and my family. I learn little tricks as I get older, on how to drown out the perpetual draw of work, which I both love and hate so passionately.

A new lesson for me is also letting go of injustices in my work. 

Over the years I have learned many lessons on how to acknowledge work tension and miscommunications- whether at my fault or that of the client/ talent. I am quick to forgive and move on if the situation allows it, but I have had some hard lessons and haven't been perfect throughout every one. That's important to understand about ourselves.

We are all imperfect. 

The lesson in injustice has been a little disillusioning, nonetheless.

I had always imagined that as an adult in a rational society, that there would always be an opportunity for justice to prevail. (I know that sounds a bit pretentious and/or idealistic, but the term fits, so I'm using it for now). I'm the kind of person that sticks up for the little voices and if given the opportunity, I always root for the underdog, the unseen or the unpopular. (If you know anything of my upbringing, self-love and life-in-general did not unfold easily for me, so I have empathy for those at a disadvantage).

In some recent work-related incidences I've been splashed with an ice-cold-cup of reality and have had to face the ugly truth that those with money and power can do whatever the hell they want and those without, are at their mercy.

The quote "With great Wealth comes great Responsibility" comes to mind in this learning season. And it weighs on me incredibly.

Being on the receiving end of clients with the power to manipulate, bully and take advantage of me has inspired me to take inventory of my business. I have found myself stumped at the powerlessness and vulnerable state of my tiny business to those with no moral sense or moral compass.

And this is a common position for any free-lance worker, so I know I am one voice in a sea of voices.

After allowing myself a day or two of anger at the injustice of the situation, I began to think of my own responsibility and debt to those have so much less than myself. I find myself reflecting on my own opportunities to bless others and extend grace, courtesy and kindness when due.
Or not due. That is the definition of grace, after all.

I'm sad this week. But I'm also oddly inspired.

I'm pissed that people can walk all over one another unchecked- protected by their own ignorance and sadly, money. But I'm also inspired to be more appreciative of those who are kind and generous. Or those who are simply loyal and honest.

I'm inspired to send more thank you cards, listen more attentively and speak less.

It's nice. It's a quiet, sobering week for me to think on what more I can do for others. And where to go from here.

1 comment:

Jenni said...

Amen to all this. I love the phrase, "Oddly inspired".