Trying Something New at Il Piccolo Gelato

8 Nov 2018

Vulnerability is a never-ending journey. When I first began working towards it, it was gritty. Facing my own behaviour patterns was hard. It was hard to be accountable for them. It was even harder to change. But after a little bit of willingness and a little bit of push change began to happen and I became a little more emotionally available.

As soon as that happened, I got challenged. Everything I had just tried to grow within myself was threatened to be smothered by the environment around me and that was the first stage of learning why I lacked vulnerability to begin with. You see, every little protective behaviour I had, had come from somewhere. I had lived through something and found that closing off was the best way to survive. Now, at the beginning of my vulnerability journey, this would have been the easiest, most cowardly point to give up on it. I’m no coward, though. And the thing is, when we’re ready to overcome a particular challenge, the challenge presents itself. 

But it hasn’t stopped being challenging. Each time I master or understand a new part of myself, there’s a gritty challenge on the other side of it where I have the opportunity to push against the sharp edges of life and refuse to give up the parts of me I have claimed back. And then, I discover something new about myself where there is room to grow.

My latest place of growth is a pattern of behaviour I have that I am pretty embarrassed by and it is in the collaboration cycle with the squad of people that I get to help me with my photography. I struggle to articulate what I’m after, plenty of times not knowing completely myself. My head is full with both how to be in front of the camera and how to be behind it and as a result, one or both can suffer. I don’t always know how to give feedback for what I’m trying to create or empower the assistant to look for it and then plenty of times I would be unhappy with the result and would sulk afterwards.

I’m surprised I still do have this pattern of behaviour a year after doing the leadership program, but old and ingrained communication habits are often the hardest to break. So this is my new focal point. I’ve got a goal to improve the way that I communicate with the people that assist me with photography to see if I can help grow their ability. If I can empower and trust them to think about what’s happening with the camera then I can focus more on practising what I do in front of it. Whatever I can empower them to achieve in our photo sessions makes my job a lot easier when I get to the editing stage. It will require a significant amount more self-awareness when taking photos myself so that I can identify where the photo assistant may be finding roadblocks and can help them master whatever skill they need to conquer the challenge.

What better way to start cementing new habits of good communication than by giving myself the time take photos with a friend who has never done it for me before. My buddy Liv and I went down to a favourite spot, Il Piccolo Gelato, and I tested my skills. Liv was excited and open to taking direction and I was chuffed to find how relaxed I was. This was probably because I gave us plenty of time, wasn’t under the pressure of having to create perfect content for a brand, and didn’t have the responsibility of socialising with people and worrying about ignoring them. That being said, the lighting and colours at Il Piccolo aren’t easy to work with and my camera struggles with light. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my 365 photo project so far, it’s that my photography skills and visions have outgrown what my camera can perform. I crave sharpness and speed and richness and often I take a photo with my current camera, look at it and have to take it for what it is, grainy, slightly unfocussed warts and all.

Liv did good! Importantly, trusting her completely meant trusting my own direction completely. We took some practice photos first then I grabbed an ice cream to pose with. The first thing I did was lick it so that it wouldn’t drip. And then because it was so incredibly delicious I kept licking it. Then it became a little awkward because looking down the lens of a camera and licking an ice-cream is the equivalent of awkward eye contact. We giggled a bit. The photos turned out ok. It’s pretty easy to crop and straighten pictures in post-production. A few of the photos were out of focus, which has taught me a few things about how to explain focus and set up the camera to better support my assistant. It was a great practice run to reflect on my communication skills.

Editing was a monster. I’m still not completely happy with the look of these but I had an opportunity to try out the feel of a matte summer vibe that I’d been thinking about for a while. It was a good, experimental, low-pressure practice session. Things I’ve taken away from it are to:
  • Trust the direction I give my assistants so I can relax in front of the camera
  • Allow plenty of time so that there is no pressure to get things right in a hurry. This allows for mistakes, reflection and refinement
  • Reduce the things that the camera thinks about for the assistant so they have complete control to follow directions
  • Ask for their thoughts on how to get to the goal so that they are actively learning and contributing and getting something out of the experience, too.

Keen to take these forward!

- L

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