Say no to your comfort zone and yes to facing fear

In February I shot my first wedding. It was a special circumstance, at the request of good friends—a family that has been wonderful to my family, so I really wanted to bless them by saying yes. 

But here’s the thing, I don’t shoot weddings. By nature they are not something I’m up for—pressured time schedules, important moments that can’t be re-taken, on your feet all day and into the night, go go go… 

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I was afraid. I was excited. I was honored to have been asked. I had to filter through all of it and be completely honest with myself and with them about my ability to do it. And I wouldn’t have lots of time to practice and learn a few things. The wedding was only a few short weeks away. Plus I would need to use flash. Good grief. I didn’t know how to do that either!

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But I couldn’t escape the tug that was telling me to do hard things. To push myself way out of my comfort zone. To do something that actually terrified me. Because in that really uncomfortable place I knew that valuable growth would happen—as a person and as an artist. If we are not regularly putting our self out there in some way, shape or form then we won’t grow and stagnation will set in. I don’t want to become a stinky, still pond in my work or my person. 

I said yes. Yes to them and their very special day and yes to being terrified and extremely uncomfortable. I was upfront with them about everything—first wedding ever, I don’t know how to use flash, I might completely screw up and miss some important moments. They were totally OK with all of it. In fact, the bride just kept expressing her confidence in me every time I would have a slight freak-out.

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So how’d I do? Over all I am pleased with what I was able to give them, thank the Good Lord! Are they all stellar and epic? Not even. Are some of them just, meh? Yep.  Did I miss anything? Oh hell yes. Like photographing the reception decor while the hall was empty and there was still natural light. Completely forgot about that and that’s something I KNEW I could do well.

I blew a few great reception moments because the flash wouldn’t fire (oh, you have to let it recharge after a burst? Who knew? Not me.) Photographing the groomsmen was in really, really dark enviroment and I didn't have great skill in handling that. I almost completely missed the cutting of the cake. I was just sitting down to eat a bite of the amazing dinner and go off the clock for a moment when, I look up and they are about to cut into the cake!! I hurry—no, haul #$% over there and catch the first cut just in the nick of time. Stress-ball city. But this cake image right here is one of my very favorites. Captured while flying by the (firey) seat of my pants and fumbling with the flash. There IS a God.

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Comfort zones have their place and purpose, that’s for sure. The important thing is not to let them rule your life. If we allow that, they will only serve to cut us off from the life-giving, soul-stretching, courage-building experiences we need to thrive. I am so, so happy I said yes to this wedding. Even though I had some serious nerves and a near panic meltdown when the day came (only slightly exaggerating. slightly.)

Walking away at the end of the night, I knew that I just grew about 10 feet taller in my ability to face fear. And that was worth every sweaty second of shooting this wedding.

What scary thing did you say yes to? I would love to hear about it! Share it with me in the comments.