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3 Things We Can Learn About Relationships From Professional Photographers

3 Things We Can Learn About Relationships From Professional Photographers

Like many professions, the things that can be learned or taught in a classroom are often not the most valuable skills a photographer will need to build the kind of career one needs to be able to support yourself on the proceeds from your art alone. Photographers frequently need to be dog whisperers, child psychology experts and a host of different kinds of therapists and counselors.

It’s easy to understand how this is true shooting family portraits; dogs just don’t understand the need to pee before you spend 20 minutes getting the two adults, two pre-teens, a toddler and an infant all perfectly posed; and that toddler – who loves posing momentarily for a random Facebook pic for mom – has no idea why she is being asked to sit still and smile again and again and again for a total stranger.  But what about the Bride on her wedding day who, when given some time to think about it while you are shooting her pre-wedding photos, suddenly decides that perhaps her soon-to-be groom sitting in a room just a few doors down is not actually “The One”? Or the High School Senior that suddenly blurts out that she’s 3 months pregnant in the middle of her senior photo shoot?

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Like hairstylists, photographers seem to have an interesting way of being made instant de-facto therapists by their clients. Perhaps it’s that photographers, like hairstylists, give people the one thing that deep down we might all want more than anything: to be seen. Not just glossed past visually, but really, truly seen as we are, and for who we are. With hairstylists, it might have something to do with actual physical space – it’s hard to imagine that anyone that close to us physically could not genuinely see us for who we are – and so we open up to them in ways we might not do with even our closest friends and family members.

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With photographers, the reasons may be somewhat different but the effect seems much the same. While a photographer might not invade a person’s physical space the way a hairstylist does, they do in fact quite literally shine a light and point a lens at people in such a way as to leave little doubt that they are genuinely seeing everything. But I think what really makes us open up to total strangers like photographers and hairstylists, is that unlike our friends and loved ones, we don’t feel judged by them. We feel evaluated by them, but somehow we know that when they evaluate it’s always for the purposes of helping us be better – which we know (or at least believe) they have the expertise to do. We almost never question our hairstylist’s desire to help us be beautiful or our photographer’s desire to look our very best in our photos.

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And maybe there are some life lesson in there for the rest of us. If people practically bend over backwards to open up to those they feel genuinely seen by and even more importantly accepted by, might that give us some key information that helps us in our own relationships? Here are a few things I think we can learn from photographers that might help us interact better from our fellow man:

1. Don’t make a suggestion…

…unless you genuinely have the skills necessary to help make an honest improvement.

2. Make sure the person you want to correct knows that they are genuinely seen and accepted

Before you try to help someone, let them know that what they’re already doing is good–and that you are trying to help them, not change them.

3. When you’re angry at someone or just not “feeling the love” – try and look at them the way a photographer would.

Try to create the very best possible light for them to stand in, and the best background for them to be shown against in a way that showcases and highlights their best features. Chances are good that when you choose to look at them that way, they will start to look better to you in a way that helps you “feel the love” once again.

Featured photo credit: epSos .de via flickr.com

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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