The “beauty of motherhood project” has filled my heart with joy over the last few months. I have captured gorgeous Mums and their sweet children. They have let me into their homes. They have shared their favourite places to play. They have shown love and connection in front of a camera. They have played, tickled, danced, and cajoled to be involved in this project. I have learnt so much along the way about myself, and about the beauty of projects. It is a great way to be inspired and create. Here are a few things that I have learnt:
1) Set a measurable goal
You have this idea that is bouncing around in your head. It flips and flops but keeps popping up. To help you pin it down, write down the idea. Visualize what the project will look like, and create a vision for the project. This can be as simple as writing it down on a piece of paper and brainstorming all the ideas that you have. Dream big, and include everything. Brainstorm until you can brainstorm no more. Then set yourself measurable goals. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, and reach your target dates. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as How much? How many? When? Where? There are many blog posts and articles that discuss SMART goals, so jump on google and have a quick read. This will help you create a strong foundation for your project. The time for lofty ideas has past.
2) Create a standard
Whether you are a professional or an amateur, you should set a standard for your project. By that I mean all the details of the project, and what you hope to achieve with the project. Knowing how to present your project, and ultimately your photography, will help you deliver the same level to each participant in the project. Decide at the beginning the what, why, when, and hows. Be very specific about the details and take the time to set this up in the planning stage. You will thank yourself later when your project gathers momentum.
For me, I am new to Sydney and my network is very small. I wanted to start mouths talking about my photography, and my creativity. I decided not to charge the participants for being involved in the project, and that each participant would receive digital images. I decided on a list of questions that I would ask each participant so I could create a portrait session that reflects their family. I created a pdf which outlines all the details of the project, and sent it to each Mother. Of course, I have tweaked these details along the way, but mostly all were sorted out in the beginning.
3) Dare Greatly.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
You are the best person to represent your project. You will love it the most. There will be people who like it, even love it, but you will love it the most. So you are the best person to sell your project, and you will need to “dare greatly” to make your project a reality. I have “dared greatly” for my project, and I have grown from this experience. I am a natural introvert, and I have had to step outside my comfort zone. I needed participants for my project, and like I said, I am new to Sydney. I know no-one, and I have had to reach out to people who I have never met. I first approached the Mums in my daughter’s class, and a few agreed. I then joined a FB group of local Mums, and after watching the site for a while to learn the rules, I approached the admins of the group and asked if I could post a Model Call. The response was great. Each step was hard work for me, and it would have been much easier for me to not take that step. But each time I felt the need to hide under my rock, I would read this quote. I am still daring greatly as I approach magazines, and photography sites to publish my project. Yes, I have had knock backs, and “Thank you but not at this time” but I am daring greatly and I keep holding on to that.
4) Share a little bit about yourself
As photographers, we are very comfortable behind the camera. Maybe we are too comfortable, and stepping out from behind the lens may not come natural to you but it will help your project. Sharing the real you with the participants helps to reduce any stress they feel about being in front of the camera. I don’t mean your “about me” page either. You need to be vulnerable, and share the real you.
I have just read ” Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brene Brown. It is an awesome read, and I highly recommend it. I took her sage advice, and shared a very personal post at the beginning of my project. I pressed publish on this blog post, and knew I could drop it afterwards. But the response was amazing, and now I share this post with every participant before we meet for our session together. I have found that each Mum is just a little less stressed about our session when we meet, and we quickly feel comfortable with each other.
5) Keep moving forward
Lastly, do something every day towards your project. It may just be 5 minutes on some days, but by working constantly and consistently on your project you will keep moving forward. In the beginning, you can create an information pdf or create a gallery from your current images. You can search online for images that inspire you. You can create a contact list and ask for volunteers. You can join local FB groups. Create a to-do list, and “just keep swimming”. Once you have volunteers you can respond to emails, edit images, and most importantly create beautiful images. I have no idea about the number of hours that I have put into this project. I know each family is between 4-6 hours of communication, session, editing, and blogging. And I have loved every minute.