Behind the Lens | Confessions of a Purse-Packing Photographer

Yesterday, I met with another photographer in downtown Charleston. This was huge for two reasons: 1.) Melissa Schollaert is one incredible person, and 2.) I have stayed away from meeting other photographers almost since I began taking pictures and it was time for that to STOP.

I took the back door into photography, teaching myself, sneaking it in with my writing, becoming a photographer groupie – but let’s be honest here. I have walled myself off. I don’t like taking risks. I don’t know equipment lingo. I am super-competitive and I don’t want to be. Basically, I don’t feel I shoot as well as anybody else.

I think I believe that everybody is smarter than I am, more talented than I am, more gracious, more loving, more better than I.

For just a minute I let that make me feel humble. And then. THEN.

I start compensating – or overcompensating for what I realize is my insecurity. Because that’s really what it is – it’s not humility. It’s an angling, comparative sense of rampant insecurity. And it is based solidly in my perfectionistic, purse-packing, overachieving self.

I hide. I don’t take risks, and I sometimes choose not to pursue relationship.

Do you know, I packed two purses for my meeting yesterday? I packed my Mk III, both my Canon lenses, and my film camera. I packed a dress for dinner, and I packed makeup for freshening up. I was gonna be SO. TOGETHER. THIS. TIME.

But I didn’t take a picture. I chattered – and apologized for talking, even though we were there to talk. I decided at some point during the evening that I needed listening lessons. I consciously forced myself to think of questions to ask. I deflected attention from myself while keeping it solidly in my “safe” zone. I put my makeup on to cover me up.

Y’all, I was ASHAMED. For not knowing. For BEING.

Melissa is a rock star – so encouraging, and so willing to build others up. She changed my perspective on a lot of things through our conversation yesterday. I loved talking with her and learning about her world.

I really don’t ever know as much as I think I know – and saying things I know isn’t really helpful to anybody. No matter what I know, how many people like me, how much success I have, how many weddings I shoot or how many workshops I teach, the only thing I will ever really have is the fact that I am loved – deeply and fully.

On the days I remember that, I have so much confidence. I stack up joy from every interaction with anybody. I create and create and create and feel like I never want to stop, because this is who I am and it’s what I was made to do and the people who matter love me in spite of my flaws!

It’s the days I forget that I want to hide. And I’ve been forgetting a lot recently.

My deepest need isn’t help or knowledge or approval or perfection. And I’d be willing to guess that it isn’t anybody else’s deepest need. I punted yesterday. I tried to cover my insecurities instead of simply. being. loved. And I came home on the verge of tears, scrabbling around in my world for what was real, wishing…

Someone shared with me recently how she wants to experience her life. How at least if you know the pain, you know it’s real. You know you’re alive. All this time I’ve been hiding. I’ve been afraid to risk pain and rejection. I’ve been ducking “the fraud police,” more afraid of being real than putting ME on and getting shot down.

Love doesn’t just materialize. It begins somewhere – “as I have loved you,” Jesus shared with His disciples when he told them to love others. You don’t take the risk of loving without knowing you’re loved. Love is the thing that lets you put the purse down and let life happen, with you in it.

3 thoughts on “Behind the Lens | Confessions of a Purse-Packing Photographer

  1. Anna

    So good and true and helpful. I see how much I let fear control me. Perfect love casts it out. X

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