Vulnerable post alert. I’ve talked about this before, about how I get stuck in my comfort zone and tend to shoot at all the same locations because they’re familiar and dependable and I know I can deliver a good product. However, it gets a little boring and predictable being stuck in my comfort zone and I know I need to be forced out of it every now and then. Do I want to be forced out of it? Not really. That requires stretching and growth. But the other option is to become stagnant and I don’t want to become that. So here’s to me not being stuck in my comfort zone any more (or at least not as often).
Here’s the story that prompted this vulnerable blog post. Rachel and Adam booked their maternity session with me a few months ago and in the weeks leading up to their session, we had several emails back and forth about location. Rachel knew what she liked and what she didn’t so there was some consultation about two or three of my favorite (stuck in my comfort zone!) locations. She went and checked a few of them out and, while she had liked what she saw in my blog posts, when she saw the locations in person, they didn’t speak to her.
Now, us photography wizards, we have these cool tools and all this knowledge that can transform what *your* eye sees into what *my* eye sees, so I can imagine it’s a little off-putting to view a location from a blog post, with all the camera tricks of depth of field and angles and lighting, etc., and then to view it in person and see it as an ordinary spot that doesn’t look all that special. That’s why we ask you to trust us so much. What we see versus what you see is often quite different.
However, I’m not one to be really pushy about locations –> the photos are my client’s memories and I want them to be thrilled with the entire experience. So I was all for Rachel and Adam going to check out various spots before making their location decision. HOWEVER. When Rachel came back to me and announced that Brookside Gardens was The Place, I internally groaned.
I have said this before and I will say it again – many times: Brookside Gardens is one of my LEAST favorite places to shoot. It’s completely beautiful to look at with your eyes…but the camera’s eye sees it differently and for all the reasons that many people (including myself!) love to visit Brookside Gardens, there are just as many reasons against it being used as a photography location…at least according to me (and my light and airy vibe).
Light is the Most Important part of a photo session. Light. Yes, flowers are pretty, and trees are great, and walkways are cool, and water features are wonderful. But light can make or break a session. Brookside Gardens is basically a dark hole. It’s surrounded on all sides by trees – and kind of in a ditch – which means that the sun is either glaringly bright directly overhead OR the light is blocked by the trees as the sun is ascending or descending in the sky.
There’s also lots of green at Brookside…which, again, is fine…unless you are me and then you want a bunch more white and/or neutral colors.
There are lots of PEOPLE at Brookside. With that comes lots and lots of waiting for those people to move out of the shot. That takes time…time that I’d rather be using to photograph my client.
And some other reasons which I’m not going to continue complaining about because this blog post would just get too long. All of that to say that I really do not enjoy shooting at Brookside Gardens. And that is one prime example of me being stuck in my comfort zone. When Rachel reached out and said, “We love Brookside!!!!!”, a big part of me groaned. The rest of me pulled up my big girl pants and said, “Let’s do this.” And we did.
Let me tell you. I basically hated the first 20 minutes of our session. Dark hole? Check. Too much green? Check. Way too many people??? Check, check, check. But then we ventured further into the park. We ventured well past where I usually take clients and out to the parts where I take my kiddos to play. And, omg, my stuck-in-my-comfort-zone self was given a prime lesson in why it’s a great idea to branch out and try new things. We found some inspiration deeper into the park and I was my excited, squealing self shortly thereafter.
Sure, are the photos a little darker and moodier than my usual style? Yep. It was a cloudy day and the sun had already dropped below the tree line. I communicated the reality of this to Rachel and Adam, as I always try to manage expectations, and they were cool with it. Rachel got to wear all three of the different outfits that she brought, I think we made a little magic on this day, and Rachel and Adam were thrilled with their maternity photos.
So…note to self: when I find myself stuck in my comfort zone, I’m going to work a little harder to test my own limits and do things that make me a little uncomfortable. Who knows what magic might come out of it!?
Liz Viernes Photography is based near Glenwood, MD, and specializes in maternity, fresh 48, posed and lifestyle newborns and first year milestone portraits.