and how letting them go will change your life
lies wedding photographers believe
Wedding Photography is an unspeakable privilege, and an opportunity to capture moments that become the legacy for generations (and to eat cake and dance every single weekend).
But being in this industry can bring with it an immense pressure - the need to compare tugs strongly at us, as well as a complex web of lies we find ourselves believing the longer we shoot weddings.
To brainstorm for this, I wrote out everything I have believed in the past about myself as wedding photographer. I didn’t think, I just wrote. And there were dozens of heartbreaking statements that, as pen leaves paper and I read them back, clearly robbed my joy and dampened my dreams.
Camron and I have believed all of these lies at some point - some of them we are still working through. You are not alone, and we’re here to remind you that these lies are so far from reality, and that YOU have innate value and worth beyond your wildest dreams.
Acknowledging that these thoughts have rolled around in that head of yours and sunk their way deep into your heart is a good step, but it’s not enough. You have to begin practices to help remind you of truth DAILY. After each lie we shared with you a practice that has helped us walk in freedom not just in our career as wedding photographers, but in our lives.
"There are already too many wedding photographers…"
So there was a trend a while back on Youtube with titles such as, 'photographers shoot the same model,' and the whole premise was the idea that every photographer will capture something different about a particular person or scenario.
"If you put many photographers in one place, they'll all take very different pictures. Because they'll necessarily come from diverse places. Each one forms their way of seeing according to their personal history." Sebastião Salgado
After shooting a wedding I used to think, ‘if (insert name of my current photographer crush) had shot this they would have got way better photos than me.’ But they weren’t there. I was. I saw the wedding through my own perspective, my own framework and perception of meaning and connection, and the moments I captured were the ones that were MEANT to be captured. Because they chose ME. They didn’t choose my photographer crush, but me.
The lie extends further. ‘Well they may have chosen me, but it’s because they couldn’t afford someone else.’ We’re here to punch that lie right in the gut, because truth be told it doesn’t matter WHY you ended up there, you are there and have the privilege and purpose of creating a legacy with your camera. Don’t get hung up on how you came to be there. We’ve shot weddings where the bride and groom absolutely fawned over us, and we’ve shot weddings where we were their second (or third, or fourth) choice. But if we let that frame the way we captured the day, what we create would be second (or third, or fourth) rate. Show them what you’re made of. Go hard at that wedding, get good rest, drink lots of water, draw from inspiration, focus on moments and shoot the heck out of that connection.
There is no one like you, not in all the earth. You have a unique voice, a unique vision, and you’ve chosen this.
And remember, marriage has been happening since the beginning of time, and we believe it’s not going anywhere. Which means there are enough couples getting married to go around. It’s not a race, it’s not a competition - it is a privilege. To capture the beginning of someones marriage is an honor we will never find words to explain. There’s always enough weddings to go around, and even if you feel other photographers get the ‘cool, overseas’ weddings, they worked their butts off to get to that point and ‘cool’ is subjective anyway. Souls are all of equal worth, and that man and woman or woman and women or man and man have souls and hearts so valuable that they are worthy of being captured.
“…and they’re all more talented than me."
Every time you see an amazing photograph from a photographer who never shares about how they created them or what it took to get there, this lie is perpetuated. Don’t get us wrong - we completely respect privacy and the very personal aspect of the creative process, but we also hate the perpetuated lie that makes other photographers compare their beginning with someone else's middle. When there is no transparency, it makes it seem like it was easy.
But we are all works in progress, we all make mistakes, and we all have a unique voice to bring to the world. Everything is a journey, and it’s okay to be at the beginning of yours. Between the two of us we’ve been doing shooting weddings for EIGHT years, and we are still growing and making mistakes and learning. Three years ago I didn’t manage my time well and delivered a wedding three times later than I said I would and I wept over an angry email from the mother of the bride. Last year we lost a whole section of the bridal party photos because of a memory card confusion. Just yesterday I had to go back and tell a devastated bride I couldn’t shoot her wedding, after 2 weeks of excited back and forth emails, because I’d over scheduled myself. I am constantly a work in progress but I am a beautiful work in progress. I have grace for myself. And I don’t compare myself to other photographers that are years ahead of me (literally, or years ahead in skill). I can’t - it creates a cycle of not-enoughness (which I’ll touch on later because THAT’S the greatest lie of all!).
A quick word on comparison - comparison can either lead to giving up all together, or an unhealthy attitude of competition. We believe the legendary Jenna Kutcher can smash this lie for us with an awesome question:
“Stop posting for your peers. Don’t think about your competitors. Stop trying to impress others in the industry. Ask yourself, who is this post serving? My ideal clients? Or my peers?” Jenna Kutcher
Here’s your practice. If you are believing this lie and always looking at other ‘more talented’ photographers and thinking you should just quit and let them do it, then unfollow them. If you complain about how instagram sucks away your hours and causes envy, remember that it’s YOUR choice what instagram is for you. We may not be able to control ads, but we choose who we follow.
We recently read something one of our brides wrote about instagram. She said, 'If you feel drained, jealous, less than, or anything negative after time spent on here, you have the power to change it. Follow accounts that fill your soul, encourage your heart, and leave you satisfied. It’s easy and life changing.’ Amy Elizabeth Love
Take some time now to permanently or just temporarily unfollow some wedding photographers who you’re comparing yourself to and causing envy. Yes, unfollow us if you need to! Please, it’ll give us so much joy to know you’re incorporating this healthy practice into your life :)
Believe it or not, everyone feels chronically behind. That’s the exhausting enslavement of social media - never enough, always behind. But the logical conclusion of this lie is that there are those that will always be ahead. The very nature of the lie is set in comparison.
‘Expertise doesn’t happen overnight. Posers happen overnight. Don’t be a poser. Be an amateur. Take a billion photos and learn how to be an expert over time’ (Jon Acuff).
A friendly reminder to you, my friend. It is NOT actually easy for other photographers. It takes blood, sweat and tears to do this. Instagram-viral, server-breaking, Pulitzer-Prize-winning images are the product of years of dedication and hard work. As photographers, Camron and I have taken well over 100,000 photos just in the last twelve months. Every week we work on our craft we're working on being an amateur. Between the two of us we have been working at this for EIGHT years. We are no overnight success. We are constantly growing, but comparison always (ALWAYS) stunts our growth.
The practice to breathe truth into this lie? You cannot combat this lie if you never take a break. Though it seems counterintuitive, we sometimes have to disconnect from other people’s work in order to flourish in our own (like in the practice for lie #1, to unfollow accounts that are causing you envy and comparison). But we also have to disconnect from EVERYTHING regularly to allow our soul’s room to breathe, to be quiet, to soak in truth.
Our DNA was constructed to work six days and rest on the seventh. Our very design was made in the ratio 6:1. When we break that we go against what we were created for. Feeling chronically behind is a byproduct of failing to truly rest. Decision fatigue and choice-anxiety are real right now. We believe the lie that more options are better - social media, tv, online shopping, coffee shops. FOMO (fear of missing out) is stealing our contentment, and our insane access to people’s work from all over the world is making us feel we gotta hustle and keep up.
But when we’re in a hurry it’s hard for us to drink deeply from the well of gratitude, and to create out of an overflow of peace. Hurry is incompatible with peace and joy, both of which are about slowing down and focusing on the moment. Jesus has been saying this since the sermon on the mount. Have you ever seen someone in a massive hurry pause and say, ‘Wow, I feel such a deep sense of peace right now.’
Neither have we.
Take a break, disconnect. Take a day off to truly rest. Slow down on the ‘hustling’ and ‘hurrying’ and rest in the process - masterpieces take time and you are so worth that time. Consider beginning to take a REAL day off each week. We recommend reading 'Garden City' by John Mark Comer or 'Sabbath' by Abraham Joshua Herschel.
Turn the limiting belief of ‘always behind’ into the liberating truth of being in PROCESS. Admitting it’s okay to always be learning is a humble and empowering truth. We just shared a blog post about the stories (and MISTAKES) behind our top 10 most ‘popular’ images of our first year of business. Have a read if you want to be reminded that it’s NOT always easy for other photographers, and that we’re all growing and learning.
Have you ever read captions like “black and white photos never go well on instagram but I’m posting one anyway” or “yes I am posting a landscape even though you’ll probably scroll past it without seeing it”? We’ve said things like that in the past, but now? It makes our blood boil - not because it’s not true (it is), but because it’s rooted in a lie. We give you all the clap emojis for ‘posting it anyway,’ but what you’re saying is actually perpetuating the lie that we have to create what other people like.
Whether you phrase it like this or not, we’ve all thought it at some point: ‘I have to create and share what other people like.' If you believe this, consciously or subconsciously, you’ll never exercise all of your creativity or reach your dreams.
If the reward for your creativity is likes or post-engagement, you’ve recieved your reward in full with these few seconds of fame. But if you create for them - for those beautiful people in your image - then your creativity becomes a legacy for GENERATIONS. It’s for the people that will frame this photo for the next generations to see and joy - what really matters in the end is them. Their joy. Their story.
And if you share your photos from your soul, you never know what other creatives you will deeply impact. The ripple effect of authentic creation can actually shape how our next generation will pursue creativity. Think about it like this - we’re basically setting up our kids for creative shame every time we create only what others will like. The greatest artists of all time went against the grain - in Rachel Hollis’ words, dead fish ‘go with the flow’ - but alive fish swim against the stream. So be alive.
Know that what you create has value and worth, even if no one double-taps it ‘because it’s black and white’ or sees it because ‘it’s landscape.’ Believe that your photos will affect generations, regardless of whether it’s ‘on brand’ or reflects the latest trend. Editing styles come and go, social media platforms come and go (yes, even Instagram), but the legacy of connection and emotion you capture will leave impact long after you press ‘post.’
Swimming against the stream sounds difficult (because it is). Authenticity is an overused word maybe because we want to use it enough so that it looses its true meaning - terrifying vulnerability. When you are your true self, you open yourself up to criticism (sadly). But remind yourself that the reaction to your posts doesn't indicate value. You are valuable, regardless. Some of our favorite photographers of all time have less than 5,000 followers on instagram. They are killing it on every level and we learn from them constantly.
If you’re looking to learn how to create space for genuine connection on your shoots, consider picking up our Shoot Experience Guide for $20. We packed as much as we could into it about how to create a shoot experience that feels genuine and gives space for real emotion, and will help you create and share the GENUINE, not necessarily the popular.
If there was a King of all limiting beliefs for photographers, it’s this one. I almost put it first, but realized that you have to read all that came before this so that when we get to this lie, the foundation of all lies, we can kick it in the face with truth:
Your worth and 'enoughness' does not come from other peoples opinions, accolades or awards. Your creativity is your birth right. It is in your DNA. Any expression of your creativity is an expression of your design, and, ultimately, your Designer. This can never be taken away from you. Therefore, realize that this lie isn’t about what you create; it attacks the very core of who you are. Believing we will never be enough is a lie as old as time itself.
'If every child of God is made in His image, then creativity isn’t a talent for the select few - it is a birthright’ (Cageless Birds).
When you read this quote, you’ll probably be drawn to the part about creativity being our birthright. I love it too - creativity is in our DNA, and all that. But the heart of this quote, this truth, is that you’re made in His image. And like a child who brings a scrawled drawing to his dad, the father examines and exclaims and expresses amazement over the drawing NOT because of the artistry or design or color palette, but because of His affection and love for his son. His delight comes from the innate worth he has for his own flesh and blood. So it is the same with God.
You are enough for Him. He made you in His image, and everything you create fills His heart with delight. When you are weary and sad and tired, you are still enough. Nothing you can do or make or achieve can win His affection for you; it’s already won. If your view of God is a tyrant king who demands rule-following, a boss who demands perfection, or a religious fanatic who demands obedience, this is not the God of the Bible. In fact, it’s actually easy to see who God really is - just look at Jesus. He befriended and hung out with the lonely, the abandoned, the rejected. Those who felt less than and wanting. The wandering and wondering, the aching and hoping.
His descriptions of God weren’t with words; His whole life pointed to a tender-hearted, affectionate and intentional Father who celebrates with us and cheers us on. While we’re broken and our lives miss the mark, because of Easter, God looks at us and sees the perfection of Jesus. Not through religion, rules, or fanaticism. Not through church attendance, bible reading or prayer. But through turning from our own way, and following the way of Jesus; love, peace, and joy.
If you've made it this far, we hope you've been hit by a ton of truth and feel empowered to lean into your worth, create genuine images, quit comparing yourself to others, and slow down your hustling til you embrace peace.
All this to say, it's the practices that are going to help you experience this on the daily. It's easy to let go of competition for an hour, or even a day, but as the days roll into weeks it can creep back in. It's easy to forget our worth. The whole bible is full of the word 'remember' because God knew we'd forget. We'd forget His peace, His love. We'd forget that we don't have to strive, that His love is free and His affection is endless.
Take time to sit in that, to let it soak into your creative bones. Next time you shoot a couple or a wedding, remember they chose YOU, that YOU have innate worth and value, that YOU are exactly where you need to be and in the glorious process of creating a masterpiece. And remember, you yourself are a masterpiece. Let that truth bomb explode those lies right out of your head!