Give Yourself Permission To Grow

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I love this time of the year when you wake up and it's suddenly Autumn. It happens literally overnight - the air turns crisp, the ground becomes a blanket of burnt ember, caramel and gold and wood burning in someone's stove conjures up imagines of log cabins, mountain holidays and foggy lakes... (I buy a candle to mark this time of year, every year, called Feu de Bois by Diptyque because it gives you your very own roaring fireplace at home.) I also love flowers in early Autumn... Rich, jewel-like colors and textures that melt your heart.RusticRomance_Becker1LOWRES

I have a photoshoot this weekend so in preparation, I've ordered the most beautiful flower bunches to create a lovely scene with. I can hardly wait to go pick them up and get creative with my bundles. I had a photoshoot earlier this week on Monday outdoors, and I was lucky because it happened to be on one of those perfect October days when the air is perfect and the sunlight trickles through the trees... I had no team with me, no photographer, but I had props and an open mind and my Canon 5D Mark III with two lenses, my trusty 50mm and my 35mm. I shot what I needed for over three hours, for my book (!), and walked away feeling better than ever. It was a real moment for me to not depend on anyone else and just do the work myself.

Have you ever felt an inner shift occur, out of the blue, that forever changed you?

That day was epic because I stopped being so damn hard on myself. I gave myself permission to not be perfect and to have fun. I allowed myself to extend the same compassion to me as I give to others who are unsure. It was when I found my voice and my confidence taking photos and now, I only want to advance and push myself in new directions so I can become better. I no longer have this negative voice in my head telling me that my photos are crap. When I sent my shots to my publisher in London, and my co-author Leslie, the replies were supportive and positive. Leslie replied saying, "LOVE LOVE LOVE." My heart jumped!

Lots of people look at a new year as the time of change. My changes have always occurred in Autumn. Usually October, both bad and good. It has been this way since I was a teenager and my parents split up - in October. After that, I always wanted October to feel nice and not sad. I always looked to the month as a starting point instead of an end - my parents both moved on with other partners and found happiness and are still married to their new partners for over 20 years now. I saw October as the beginning of something new and an end to something negative, always.

I wondered what my change, my shift, would be for October this year because each year it is always something. I like to begin the month with this feeling of, "Whatever happens, what if, let's see", and I walk into the golden month with eyes wide open and a curious nature. I wonder what it will be this year. By the end of the month, I always come up with something and it's usually big.

This time around, I found my happy place with photography and my photo taking insecurities evaporated. In one day, one shoot, poof! Gone. I even bought a new lens yesterday in celebration of this (an investment I was eager to make) and this weekend I will shoot a chapter for the book, all by myself. And you know what? A few weeks ago this would have terrified me. A few weeks ago I would have hired help because I thought I wasn't good enough.

October this year brought me courage in an area that I have long, long had a battle with - photo taking. I have been taking photos since I was very young and shot with a film camera until 2003. Once I made the switch to digital, it all felt so complicated to me and "technical" and I didn't get that involved. When I started doing books, I directed photographers and acted as art director on shoots and the same goes for magazine shoots and even working on things in-studio for clients. When I got on Flickr in 2005, I definitely loved taking photos but never felt that confident and working online all of these years made me more and more insecure because I constantly compared my work to the pros who have blogs and thought that though I had the eye for it, even a pro photographer told me I had a great eye and should advance myself... But still I could never imagine shooting for books or magazines because I'm not as technical with photography as everyone else appears to be.

Technical technical technical. Tech was totally holding me back.

I have recently worked with photographers who do great work, jaw-dropping, and they confessed that they know little about how to use a camera from a technical perspective - they have a formula and they stick to that. One said I was very talented and that I should try to take more photos and shoot for my book. I was shocked and just thought she was being polite. But it got my wheels turning, then I started to think about these women with the beautiful photos who aren't "that technical" and wondered why I had let the technical side overwhelm me so much? That perhaps I should just jump in and try shooting so I went and photographed a local design studio for my blog and that was a real starting point for me. But I still felt shaky-legged and afraid. I still felt like readers were just being nice when they said my photos were pretty.

Until now.

All of this created newfound confidence and courage that I want to build on from here. I want to go on a photography retreat next year (know of any good ones in Europe or Scandinavia???) to learn more - particularly lifestyle photography and portraits along with shooting in artificial light or when natural light is not optimal.

Where have you currently gained courage at? What have your given yourself permission to grow lately?

(image: holly becker for decor8)