Ahhh... fresh beginnings. I used to blog fairly regularly and I miss the routine of it and the cathartic release it gave me. As part of this new program I'm in, called Praxis, I am challenged to begin writing more and this is the first in a new series of many future posts.
As I've bounced between interests and creative outlets throughout the years, I've learned a lot about what I'm good at, what I'm not, and what I'd like to improve on. Granted, it wasn't easy to come up with a list of skills and traits that I possess that not many others do. Though my unique skills might be evident to others peering on from the outside, it's hard to get the full picture without stepping out of the box and doing a fair amount of introspection.
So, here are my top three soft skills.
Probably the most subjective of my skills, I see myself as a creative person. Sitting down and coming up with new photoshoot concepts is something I do for fun and there is honestly few better feelings than gestating an idea that has enough momentum to inspire others to get out and create as well.
Being in the photography industry, however, coming up with creative ideas isn't just a hobby of mine - it's my job. Before I got my start in photography and truly exercising my creative muscle, inspiration was something that I only could occasionally dip my hand into as it wafted by, ever fleeting. Now, however, I'm able to come up with new ideas on the fly constantly, always adapting to the ever-changing variables of my environments.
I've also learned that creativity is something very few are born with and, just as in any sport, practice makes perfect. I challenge myself weekly to go out and create new images with constraints that really push me to think different.
This mindset also has extended itself over into my coding career. Coming up with creative, efficient solutions to problems is something that all programmers are tasked to do on a daily basis. I've found it to be easier to write better, slimmer code as of late, especially after a photography "creative high", so-to-speak.
Long ago I found myself to be most comfortable in my room, door closed, blinds shut, furiously tap-tap-tapping away at my keyboard. I thrived in safe, predictable, familiar environments. Now, however, I've turned that on its head.
Almost every day I have to spend hours with people I've never met before and crack through their external walls to find their true selves so I can best photography the person they see themselves as. It doesn't take a trained eye to tell an awkward, posed photo apart from the beaming, warm smile of someone who is truly enjoying themselves and dropping their insecurities for a while. If I don't make my client (what a cold word, by the way) feel beautiful throughout the shoot, I've failed at my job.
Being a photographer is about so much more than knowing what an aperture is or how to bounce a flash. The technicals and nitty-gritty of cameras should always take a back seat to making a raw, human-connection with the client. Anyone can take a photo nowadays, as opposed to the complicated contraptions of yesteryear. What truly sets photographers apart is our ability to break down those defenses and soothe those insecurities that so many people have when meeting someone new.
This has helped me immensely outside of photography as well. The hours leading up to meetings (even online conference calls) left me with sweaty palms and shortness of breath have been replaced with excitement to make a new connection with a new person. Gone are the days of keeping myself closed off in my room. The hushed murmur of people at their tables in coffee shops is almost better than caffeine when it comes to giving me inspiration and motivation to perform at my best.
Eighteen years, five states, ten moves, and four schools have left me without the option to become complacent. It was never an option from the day I was born and won't ever be in the future. I truly thrive off of change and the new. It gives me inspiration, fuels my curiosity, and paradoxically enough, gives me a sense of sameness.
Moving isn't scary to me: it's like a turn of a fresh page in a notebook. I live for the endless possibilities that a new location offers, from trying out every coffee shop to starting to volunteer at local organizations right off the bat, but it's about more than just the amenities. Uprooting so frequently has taught me how to make and maintain amazing friendships that I still have to this day, even across state lines. Whenever I go to a new city, even to travel, I challenge myself to get out there and meet new people and even make a friend or two and some of the most incredible people I've come to know have been people I've met on my travels.
Change is all I've ever known. Before, I moved around with my family because I had to. Now, I'm going to be moving in a few months because I want to. I want to challenge myself to meet new people, become more creative, and thrive in somewhere totally new.
Writing this post has actually been very introspective and allowed me to reflect a bit on where I'm at in life right now. If you'd like to read more about what I want to improve on, check out the Five Traits I Want to Develop.