Getting to where the magic happens~

Perhaps you’ve come across this photo before while scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed. Maybe it was from your Aunt Sally who just got back from an all inclusive yoga retreat, or that spiritual friend you have who is always posting quotes about how to live your best life. Maybe you just came back from a business owners conference or recently got schooled by your newly hired life coach? Regardless of where you heard it, i’d like you to take a moment out of your day to think about it.

You may be wondering why I’m choosing writing a blog post about comfort zones and magic? This is a PHOTOGRAPHY website after all, not a self help website! So here’s where I spill the beans and let you know my first secret as portrait photographer. My job is about 20% technical abilities, and 80% percent being a psychologist! Not that I don’t have them technical skills, cause goodness knows I do and you have to have those too…but for real, its mostly about connecting with my clients! 80% psychology i tell you! Achieving an incredible portrait where someone is 100 percent authentically themselves requires one to authentically be themselves, and you cant do that just because you have the best gear or lighting in the world. Which is to say one can’t fake being themselves~ It either happens naturally or it doesn’t.

So what is that one thing that prevents someone from being completely themselves in front of the camera? Blatantly put FEAR! (better known as FALSE. EVIDENCE. APPEARING. REAL) Here are some typical ways that fear manifests when one thinks about having their portrait taken.

  1. “I’m not photogenic” One common belief that many people have is that they’re not photogenic. Let me shut down that thought RIGHT NOW! EVERYONE is photogenic! If you haven’t seen yourself look amazing on camera, hire yourself a photographer who knows how to do their job. If you believe you don’t look good in portraits, it has more to do with the inexperience of who you hired than it does you!
  2. “The camera adds 10 pounds and I’m going to look fat.” This is kinda true, but only half true. While the camera can seemingly add weight to your figure, the camera can ALSO magically reduce the appearance of weight! Now the only question is, does the person operating the camera know the difference of how to consistently achieve one or the other? Again this is a photographer issue, and has nothing to do with YOU! (remember what I said about False Evidence Appearing Real!?)
  3. “I just stiffen up and am not comfortable in front of the camera, I always look nervous”. I’ve seen this first hand a zillion times! I’ll be hanging out with a client, all will be chummy and wonderful and as soon as I lift up the lens to take their photograph. I’ll get this face.

True story! Nearly everyone I photograph looks like this in the first frame! So how does one go from here to something that looks a little less dear in headlights? Well, thats where the psychologist in me kicks in. Within a few moments, I get clients from that to THIS! Thats my own unique secret sauce saved for when I write a best selling novel! (insert myself dreaming outside of my own comfort zone) but in the meantime I’ll say this…..I gracefully usher people out of their comfort zone without them even knowing it!

So back to the diagram above about comfort zones…. Aside from stepping in front of my camera lens to have your portrait captured and defying all of your inner critic thus proving to yourself that you ARE in fact a gorgeous luminous being…. how do we get the heck out of our own way so we can make the magic happen in our everyday lives?

I’ve outlined some of my favorite tips below to help you navigate your ship from comfort and cozy to surpassing your own expectations of what you’re capable of on the wild unforgiving seas of life. Ready to jump on board?

  1. CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE~ First things first, if you’re doing the same thing everyday according to a fixed schedule, chances are you don’t have the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone very often. Sometimes a simple change in routine is all you need to get the ball rolling. Maybe you decide to take a different route to work, maybe you pick out your clothes the night before instead of waiting till the morning to get dressed.? Perhaps you get up 15 minutes earlier to meditate or journal? Whatever you decide to change up, CHANGE SOMETHING!!!!
  2. TRY SOMETHING NEW~ This is different from changing your routine. This involves doing an activity that you’ve never done before and doing in consistently until it doesn’t feel new anymore. If there was a class you’ve always wanted to sign up for, consider this your nudge from the universe to go for it! Learning something new that doesn’t feel intuitive at first can help us to develop new neurological pathways which can ultimately lead us to higher states of consciousness. (um heck yes please!) If you’re not learning something new, chances are you’re not pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.
  3. SAY YES~ Here’s is perhaps the most difficult one. Say YES to something you usually say NO to. Maybe a friend invited you to go out dancing, but you “don’t dance”, so you said no? Maybe someone asked you to help them with something and you weren’t up for it? Saying YES to all the things you normally would say no to is an absolute sure fire way to pull you out of your comfort zone. Imagine what would show up for you through this process? Maybe you’ll learn more about boundaries, maybe you’ll decide that you actually had fun doing things you thought were boring?
  4. DO SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU~ You know that thing that scares the ever living crap out of you? DO IT!!! Go hang out near a snake nest and commune with a snake family, let a spider crawl up your leg, walk in the woods alone at night without a lantern, jump out of an airplane, ask that girl you adore out on a date, apply for that job you think you won’t get. GO FOR IT! Doing things that scare you and working through your phobias head on is a fantastic way to identify whats holding you back in the first place.
  5. IDENTIFY YOUR ROAD BLOCKS~ Last but not least, I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention the introspection required to get out of your comfort zone. When you’re coming up against something that makes your stomach turn, or your brain spin from the above 1-4 list, WRITE IT DOWN!!! What exactly is it that scares you about something? Why are you resistant to change your routine? What are you afraid of? Writing down your fears and road blocks is a beautiful way to see them for what they are. Craft yourself a list of all the reasons why you can’t do something and then ask yourself. Is this true? I mean, is that REALLY true? Is it true you can never do that? Do you really believe that you’ll fail if you try xyz? If so why? Dig deep folks, find those roots of self doubt and pluck them suckers up so they don’t keep spreading!

While these are solid tips, they don’t become an actualized reality until you practice or choose to do one of them! Getting out of your comfort zone requires humility, persistence, mindful presence, and being indifferent/ open to the idea of succeeding or failing. It will stretch you beyond your usual limitations whether mental, physical or spiritual to help you discover the MAGIC that you are made of! Like Marianne says above. “Your playing small does not serve the world.” Go out and see what is possible!

Play with your kids, write that book, dream big, draw your life, dance out the stress, make believe, climb mountains, land that job you thought was impossible, start that business you’ve been thinking of, dive into the ice cold lake, show yourself how incredible you are!

What small step will you make today to get out of your comfort zone and find the magic that you’re capable of? If this has inspired you, I’d love to hear it in the comments!

Ithaca NY family photographer
Ithaca NY family photographer

***Disclaimer: Just so we’re clear here…I’m not asking you to do something that would cause injury yourself here. Obviously follow your intuition on this one!

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