Photographers, it's ok to not be ok
It’s ok to not be ok. Something every person can be reminded of, especially this past year. Not least the photographers, whose business got hit hard.
We have some psychologists in Rawsie team, so thought we'd write on a topic close to our heart for the community that is so dear to us.

Photographers got it hard. The nature of the work implies they adjust to their clients on site, almost blend in, but at the same time photographers are feeling, expressive, emotional types.

With any interactive client work, particularly wedding, elopement or family shoot - you need to pull on a happy face, and shoot. Regardless of what’s going on in your life, your family, or inside your head. Cancelling on clients who’ve been waiting for so long is simply not an option. Neither is turning up to the shoot down, disconnected or frustrated.

This is what the common inner voice is telling photographers. But it shouldn't be the case.
It's true that no client wants to see frustration or anger expressed at them, but it doesn't mean the feelings need to be blocked out.

"I shouldn't be sad”, "I can't be feeling low", "I cannot show I'm not my best today", etc - such inner chatter denies one's feelings and emotional state, rejects and forbids us from feeling what we are. Bottling up emotions over a period can lead to more serious issues like anxiety or depression.

Not just that. Denying own's initial feelings invokes secondary emotions, such as shame or guilt for not feeling your best, i.e. 'feeling bad for feeling bad'. This turns the pressure volume to the max, which could drain one even further.

Below are some good practices for when we as photographers are not feeling our best but have a work coming up.
Separate the environments
Switch off by immersing fully into the shoot for the time being, and once you off the job - be truly vulnerable and open with your friends and family. Don’t slip into a tendency of suppressing emotions around your loved ones taking over from that mode working with clients. Have a bold distinction, separate the two. It’s important to hold a space where you’re yourself. Always make sure that on a larger scale of things your emotions are not bottled up.
Keep boundaries
If you don't feel like sharing the emotions or reasons behind them with your clients - don't. If any guests get bored and start pestering you with questions - tell them calmly you don't wish to speak about anything personal, and would prefer to focus on your work. Make sure you draw the clear line if you wish to keep things personal.
Be open with your clients
If on the other hand, you feel like opening up - go for it. At the end of the day, they hired you for the work that reflects who you are. So be yourself. Embrace your mood. Use it as a source for creativity. Don’t force it, just go on a ride with it.
Be open with yourself
Check in with yourself regularly. Basic body scanning techniques from meditation help: How am I feeling right now? What's going on inside?
Have option B
Establish relationships with some local photographers you're on the same page with. Or train and level up your second shooters. To follow up from the previous paragraph, if an important shoot is coming up and you don't feel right - pass on the job to your trusted replacements. It's not ideal, of course. But it's working. Just knowing there's someone else to step if needed takes a lot of pressure off.
Use affirmations
Some people laugh when they hear 'affirmations' - let them laugh. It's scientifically evident what we tell ourselves influences how we think, which in turn affects how we feel and behave. So, if you need that extra boost - have some affirmations handy. Remember, don't block the emotions you're experiencing, just add a layer of encouragement you need right now. "I'm my best when I open up to the world", "I create best artwork when I'm honest and genuine", "My clients booked me, so they believe in me, and so do I" - think what you would like to hear most, what would give you the biggest boost. Write down those affirmations. Owning it - makes it even more powerful. Then read through them before a shoot and pick the one that would help you most on that day.
Remember, it's ok to not be ok. We genuinely try to do our best, but we live in the real world where things happen, or we simply wake up on the wrong side of the bed.
Photographers are humans. Most of things in the world are not under our control. Apart from ourselves. Life happens. So do different feelings and emotions. Don't try to be perfect. You shoot raw - so be raw too.
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