Time

Killing it. Wasting it. Having too little of it. Having too much of it on our hands. The healer of all wounds. The companion of space. The thing that sometimes, you wish would just pass faster.

Time can be so easy or so hard. In my case, of course, harder is the current frame of it – as I learn new skills in business and in my photography and in my budding fascination with my soprano ukulele. Why? Because time is the only way I will ever be on equal footing with the giants in my field. They began their race for “the best” long before I did. And their race was, from all I’ve learned about them, just as humbling and difficult.

Fact of the matter is… no matter what it is that you’ve decided you want to do, time is the only currency that leads to “better.” Certainly, you have to put in hard work. You must be willing to learn – be that through books, classes, workshops, or critiques. You must be willing to practice, practice, practice. You have to be willing to let time do the magic it does – cooking all your effort into a finished product that you can put on the shelf for everyone to love. (Or hate, because not everyone is going to like your brand of cooking!)

It’s so hard to understand sometimes that no matter how much I read, absorb, practice… nothing will make time move any faster. Some folks liken it to taking your lumps, others to paying your dues. I liken it to a patient mother who gives a small chuckle when her child tells her she is Wonder Woman… the mother who ruffles the child’s hair and says, “Of course you are.” Time doesn’t discourage – even if it is discouraging. Time doesn’t discriminate – even if sometimes you feel as though the road is rough.

I’m grappling with time. I want to be ten years ahead of where I am now, already knowing what I need to know, as though (and here is where that child self comes in) when I get there I won’t have any new questions. As though I won’t need to know more or learn more because like magic I’ll be the best and know it all. I laugh in spite of myself even as I write this, and think back to when I was a young woman – thinking I knew everything at 20. I couldn’t have imagined my life at 40. I can’t yet imagine myself at 60.

Truth is, no one knows everything. No one ever will. We can only hope that with all our hard work and effort, our willingness to learn and thrive, our grit and perseverance that we will end up shooting for the moon and landing among the stars. The fuel for our rocket, the sizzle in our cooking, the thing that is the same no matter our perception of it… is time.

The only thing to do now is settle in for the journey. So long as we’re willing to learn and put forth the maximum effort, time will take care of the rest. It always does… no matter how slow (or fast) it may feel. And always remember… your race may not have the same starting or finish line as someone else’s. It may not even be on the same track… but if you put in the time to keep running it… time will reward you so long as you’ve spent it well.

Until then… take a moment and smell the roses… then get back to work.

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The Dreaded Demons of Doubt

Let us imagine, for a moment, that you are on the cusp of something magnificent. You’ve just gotten word you are first in line for a promotion to management. You feel that sense of elation! The warm and fuzzy of accomplishment! You have your meeting tomorrow with your boss. You go home and get ready to wow them. You’ve got this! You’re on fire! Then you turn off the lights and proceed to lie in bed where the shadowy little demons crawl up your pillow and sit by your ears and talk to you. They speak in dulcet tones that sound just like you, sound just like that rational part of you: “Who do you think you are?” “Gina is a much better fit for the job.” “Don’t you remember when you forgot to file the paperwork for your client? What makes you think you’ll be able to manage anyone?” “Don’t you know how much more work this is going to be?”

Maybe you’ve just opened your business… like… oh, me! You lie in bed and those little gremlins curl up in your ear, stealing your voice: “Yeah, you have clients now but you won’t after you show them your work.” “Get ready to spend all this money and fail.” “Who would buy anything from you, anyway?” “Who do you think you are?”

Maybe you have a major test at school, a speech to give, a big game to play, an application to submit, a book to write… “Who do you think you are, anyway?”

These are the demons of doubt, and they are VERY real. A small percentage of us is blessed to never have these monstrosities visit. A very small percentage. Most of us get these little cowards rattling to us in the wee small hours, telling us why what we’re about to embark on is going to be: Bad. Embarassing. Wrong. Horrible. Scary. Deadly. And a fair sized portion of us listen. A fair sized portion of us back down, politely close the door that has opened for us, shake our head with apologies, and humbly crawl back under the rock where we feel our most comfortable. Those demons pat us on the back and congratulate us on doing the right thing because that job was: Stupid. Hard. A Pain. Ruinous. Not a good fit. <insert whichever fancy excuse here>

My dear reader, I’m posting this because I have those little jerks sitting on my shoulder nearly every single day. As a photographer, I read books on photography (and the demons tell me how I’ll never be that good), I watch videos on photography (and the demons tell me how I’ll never be knowledgeable enough to teach anyone anything), I open up Lightroom and proceed to edit my photos (and the demons point out why my work is crap), I send off an email to let a client know their photos are ready to proof (and the demons tell me my work is so bad the clients will want their money back). I deposit whatever funds I need to (and my demons tell me that will be the last of my money because no one will want to book me in the future)… do you see where this is going?

I know, it sounds like I’m plagued every second – I’m not – but they’re there. They try really hard to make me believe I am not who I say I am… that underneath it all, I am a fraud and that any second, I’m going to be discovered. Someone – I don’t know who because my demons lack the imagination to make it clear – is going to tell me I have to shut down my business because I’m not a “real photographer.”

So what are we to do?

I’ll tell you what the demons of doubt hate. With a passion. They hate it when you decide to say to them, “Okay,” and then proceed to walk through the door anyway. They hate it when you take in that deep breath and you take the first step on your journey. They hate it when you hear them and make them think you’re going to roll over and give up, then proceed to move forward anyway.

In other words – you defeat them by doing exactly what makes you feel most uncomfortable. You defeat them by enduring that horrible sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, the rumbling deep in your guts, the gallons of sweat that comes from no where, the trembling hands and shaky breath. You defeat them by stepping outside of that comfort zone and standing tall even when you feel like the slightest breeze is going to blow you down.

Trust me when I say… the moment you stand up in the wind, you discover that it isn’t your adversary. That wind belongs to the muses who admire you for your courage. They slap a pair of wings on you and smiling, they start to teach you how to fly. You won’t be the greatest at it, you will fall to the ground and maybe even break a bone, but you defeat your demons, you stand up, and the muses lift you again. My logo? The fairy? That is Lumina. She is literally my muse – and I have her to remind me to light fire to my ideas and make magic. (And now you know my secret!)

Even as I write this, those demons are chattering about how this post is worthless and no one will read it anyway and… their beloved phrase… “Who do you think you are, anyway?”

I hope we can all answer them:

I am a magical meat covered skeleton hurtling through space at thousands of miles an hour inhaling my wildest dreams and exhaling art.

Or, you know… you could just always say “Okay” and walk through the door anyway.

Stay strong.

I’ll end by posting my current desktop background:

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Welcome to the Musings!

This is the first official post of Lumina’s Musings and I hope it won’t be the last you read! I’ll begin by explaining what my aim is here… why yet another blog by yet another person hoping to garner another following as they gab about photography? In short… just who do you think you are, anyway?

I am a person who decided in July to give in to the voices of so many people telling me: “You should do this as a business.”  “You should open a business.”  “Your work is so great, you should be selling it.”  “You do amazing work… you should open a business.”  And no, it wasn’t all my mother telling me these things – but friends (and some family) for whom I’d done portrait work. It’s like having a giant ear worm, but instead of music, it’s everyone telling you why not being a professional is just a giant personal loss.

I’ve been into photography for a very long time, lights and cameras and beautiful shots make me giddy… but never considered it seriously as a “hobby” until about 2014. In 2015 I got my trusty Rebel T5i on the recommendation of a “real” photographer friend of mine, and I started taking pictures. Frankly, I wanted to cry most of the time because I couldn’t get anything stunning out of that little black box. I put it away for a while.

Okay, okay. I hear it already: “not another long story about how puppies inspired you.” I give in… (though human faces inspire me, not puppies). I started buying gear. Oh yes, Xrite Color Checker, targets, cheap flashes, tripods, stands, reflectors… if someone told me it would make my photography amazing, I bought it. Boy… if only I knew then what I know now. I’m sure you can imagine my chagrin when I realized that my photos still looked like crap… slightly better crap than when I had nothing, to be sure, but still… I just couldn’t crack the code.

I was watching a video – because by this time I’d decided maybe B&H talks were the way to gain mastery (and boy did I take notes) – when one of the presenters said something so simple it sliced right in between my eyes and buried itself in my brain: “Invest in this (points to head) before you invest in anything else.” How was it, that a college educated human being could possibly have forgotten that very basic thing? Not only college educated, but a professed bibliophile who has written a novel? I don’t know either, but that was exactly what had occurred.

My husband was suddenly turning red as I bought every single book I could get my hands on – and not just educational in terms of teaching the basics, but Steve McCurry, Vivian Maier, Gregory Heisler. I read (and examined) like a demon – not only buying books, but getting everything my library had to offer. I bought courses on Kelby One, watched B&H videos by the pros, and practiced my rear end off.

Then… I did the unthinkable. I actually thought I was good enough to start a business. Now… caveat here… I absolutely went to school for business.  I have an associates in business administration, it was my minor to my English major. I have opened businesses before… which is why when everyone started lauding the work and pushing that direction, I ABSOLUTELY DUG IN MY HEELS. ‘No way,’ I told myself. ‘That is WAY too much work.’ (Not to mention in all my reading, there were plenty of people who said: “Don’t ever go pro if you love photography.”) Still, bit by bit, I warmed to the idea. I thought about it, knowing that I wanted to help earn money for my family. To contribute and not be a moocher… there’s an idea.

Ho-lee-smokes. I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t just fly off into the skies and be earning five figures. I didn’t realize how much more of a moocher I was going to become – using my husband’s funds to buy web hosting, domain names, equipment upgrades, t-shirts, business cards, insurance, etc. etc. etc. I didn’t realize just what it meant to sit with an Excel spreadsheet to figure out what price I needed to charge to make any profit, nor just how daunting all those formulas would actually be.

What in the world was I thinking?!

Well… I’ll tell you what… I was thinking that somehow this would turn into magic. And do you know what? In my first month of opening – I was placed on a high-ranking agency’s list of recommended photographers (I’ve been requested not to name them publicly). I have had six clients who have been delighted with what they’ve gotten. I’ve watched my two teens each make 100 dollars off of the shoots they helped me light and run, and heard the tales of their friends being amazed that they work for their mom in photography. I’ve watched what happens to a family when they come to a shoot stressed and nervous, then have them goofing off by the end and delivering the most welcoming of smiles. I’ve mooed like a cow so loud for a shy six-year-old that people in the park turned to look and she cracked up laughing. I’ve sweat to the point I’ve lost weight, I’ve ached to the point I nearly crawled to bed, I’ve had every panic attack known to man. I’ve spent HOURS in my chair editing photos until all I saw in my dreams were pores and that one guy in the background I didn’t notice when I shot the pic. I’ve made myself sick worrying that the shoot wouldn’t turn out the right way: what if I’m not good enough, what if I do it wrong, what if I forget, what if they hate it, what if I shouldn’t be doing this – I shouldn’t be doing this… this is crazy, this is so much work, this is so hard, I want to cry but I don’t have time because I have to get xyz finished and send an email to abc and, and, and… you get the picture.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Okay, maybe I would make it easier, but I suppose if it were easy everyone would be doing it and there’d be no reason to fight for it.

I am new to the business of photography. Very new. Barely a month old. But the reason I’m here, the reason I decided to add yet one more responsibility onto the pile of responsibilities is this… I know I’m not the only one. Someone, whenever they get to this, will read this post feeling absolutely the pits, or not good enough, or not on top of it enough, or… just like they are alone. I wanted to start this blog for those folks… not the ones who want to know about the latest gear, or the best photo trends… but those who need a little boost to the ol’ self esteem. No, I’m not the only one doing it. I’m one voice among many, but hopefully this one voice can lend a little humor to a very scary, daunting, and overwhelming process.

I hope I can count on you to keep coming back and maybe we’ll all get through this together.