finding your path

Finding Your Path. Defining Who You Are.

My heart is so full of love! I can't thank y'all enough for the overwhelming response to my Jose Villa workshop post.

But... I don't want to leave it at the images. I know a few of you want to know what ELSE happens at these workshops, especially meeting someone so inspiring like Jose Villa. It's going to have to be broken down into sections to make everything digestible :)

So where do we start? Simple:

// Finding Your Path.

The weekend before I left for Santa Barbara, I watched a workshop that Tamara Lackey was holding on Creative Live. Her first topic was "Define Who You Are." Only a few days later I was sitting at the Figueroa Farmhouse with Jose Villa and you know what Jose's first topic was? Finding Your Path.

> > Find. Define. Same thing. When you find your path, you can define it -- verbalize it. < <

Before I dive into ANY other topic Jose covered, I want to leave you with these set of questions Tamara posed to her audience. Read these, answer them for yourself. Then figure out how fast/easy/hard it was for you to answer them.

Ready? GO:

1) When these things (your role, profession, geography association) change -- who are you? (Hint: Skills, abilities, interests, talents, insights, beliefs.) No, seriously. Write these down.

2) Find your favorite photo. Answer this: What is the EXPRESSION of the composite? For me: romantic and playful.

3) What are you drawn to constantly and how did you grow up?

-Let me give you an example from the workshop. Jose Villa told us that he grew up around horses, ranches… organic elements and that he began applying this to his photography. Look at his images -- the pastels, the florals, the trees. I mean, his entire packaging was very simple -- clean whites, burlap, and very natural elements. Jose Villa chose "organic" to describe his photography. So how can YOU pick out a word from your upbringing, from your style aesthetic and apply this to YOUR photography?

4) What makes you go dead inside? For me, it's definitely forced composition.

5) What in you needs to be expressed? Don't you love this question?!

6) What have you always thought you could do - but haven't? For me it used to be video editing, but that's changing ;)

7) What are you really, really, really, really good at -- basically comes naturally? (Ex: writing, relating to kids, etc.)

8) If what you "should" do/say is A, what is B?

9) How much of you is a result of others' ideas about you? I posed this question on Facebook and my friend Jenn shared how being a "teacher's pet" or being in the "good kid" crowd influenced her personality and behaviors like being "afraid to try something new if [she] didn't succeed." I can see how this would hold Jenn back from taking risks in her business. As artists, I know we all experience anxiety over what people think. I battled this a lot and still have to fend those thoughts off.

But now it's about deeply understanding who you are because this will shape the message your photography sends (i.e. your branding!). The better we understand who we are, the less shakeable and more confident we become in our business. So get that part down cause branding is next :)

"Don't compromise yourself. You're all you've got." -Janis Joplin

I don't think it's a coincidence that both of these successful photographers started their workshops with defining who THEY are first. Like Tamara said, "technical expertise is assumed. This makes it an EVEN playing field. So what's left? Your vision."

So why do we sometimes try and mold our vision around others'? Would love your thoughts! And thank you again, seriously, for your words. Y'all truly inspire me each day!