Back in March, I attended the workshop of the incredible Yan Palmer of YANphotography in Phillip Island, just outside of Melbourne. Yan, a US based photographer, is renowned for being the "it-girl" of modern family lifestyle photography. My expectations for the day were high, I was buzzing with excitement, and she did not disappoint. The experience started a few days before the workshop with a full review and feedback of my work, my website, blog and social media. The review was in depth, harsh (in a completely constructive way) and meaningful. The biggest thing I took away from her feedback, and into the workshop, was WHY does my personal work differ so greatly from my paid client work? Why am I not exercising the creative freedom and embracing the imperfection when money is involved? It was a lightbulb moment. While my client work was technically good, well lit, well composed etc, it lacked the heart, depth and soul of my personal work.
This lightbulb moment stirred an enormous change within me. The more Yan's words resonated on the day, the more I realised what the root of this was. I cried, I nodded and I knew what I needed to do.
Almost two years ago, the life I imagined and dreamed for myself and my family was thrown upside down. I separated from my son's Dad, and embarked on the journey of single parenthood. It was an impossibly hard decision, but something that needed to happen. This has always been something I've kept private when it came to my professional persona. Photographing happy, very together (!) families, I believed that I needed to present myself as the same. Even up until recently, past clients have asked me if I'm thinking about having another baby, having absolutely no idea that I have been raising this little man on my own for almost two years. When I looked at how this related to my work - I realised that when I am shooting just for me, I am free to be the messy, imperfectly perfect Mum and human that I am. I was so scared that if people saw my struggles, saw that I wasn't the perfect picture of family and togetherness, that I wouldn't get booked. But in doing that, I lost sight of myself, and to an extent, that came through in my client work. I was too focused on things being so perfect, that I wasn't seeing what was really there, and I wasn't putting my truth and my heart into what I was photographing.
The biggest thing that I took away from Yan is, my journey isn't something I should hide, ever. The messy, the difficult and the hard are all things that have made me who I am - and I need to celebrate it. I have decided that from this point forward, I will shoot from my soul at EVERY session, showing people how beautiful their lives are, even the messiest, hardest parts, because that is where we truly connect. I get it. Life is so far from perfect, no matter who you are, but it's still amazing and beautiful - all of it.
We were so lucky to get a chance to see Yan in action at a shoot in the afternoon. Here are some images I took of the most gorgeous little family.
Yan, thank you for allowing me to see that imperfection and truth is something to be celebrated.