2019 was my quest for the creatives holy grail; the tricks of the trade, the secrets to success, and that one piece of advice that would make my business instantly successful.
I spent the year learning new skills, honing old ones, and seeking out advice from successful food photographers. I enrolled in courses, signed up for webinars and email newsletters; I joined a mastermind group focused on defining my brand and I attended my first Tastemaker conference.
I gained SO MUCH knowledge! But I wasn’t any closer to success. I was burnt out, exhausted, and losing passion for food photography.
Why? Because I was trying to live someone else’s success story. I internalized all the knowledge I gained and very slowly, my creative processed morphed into one that wasn’t mine.
I think it’s easy to get caught up in the details of what makes other creatives successful. Anxious thoughts and feelings that we have no idea what we are doing are normal; so seeking out advice from other creatives is only natural.
But take advice with a grain of salt. Approach it with a healthy skepticism. Constantly question if it’s something that fits into your definition of success. More importantly, don’t turn that advice into rules. Don’t let it limit your creativity, stifle your passion, or filter what you choose to share with the world. Be your authentic genuine self, even if it means breaking the status quo.
Let go of the pressures around you that cause stress. The following items are the friction points that I’m letting go in 2020. Some of them are pieces of advice you hear a frequently while others are related to cultivating a healthy mindset. All of them are items I need to let go of in order to reach my definition of success.
In 2020 I’m letting go of…
Living other creatives success stories
I work full time, so my time dedicated to food photography is limited. That fact alone means my success story is going to be drastically different. It also means that I can’t borrow items from other creatives and expect them to work for me.
I can’t post everyday or batch my time the way other creatives do. I have to define my version of success and and find a way of working that fits into that definition. I have to enjoy my journey without comparing it to others.
Doing it all
When I started this journey, I thought food blogging and food photography went hand in hand. Every recipe I photographed had to be tested and shared on Clean Plate Clb.
I want to be a food photographer first and foremost; I cannot give 100% to my blog and my photography. I still love sharing my recipes with the world, but in order to be successful, something has to give. For me that means posting less on my food blog.
There is this stigma that you have to work yourself to death before you can declare success. While it may get you success, it comes are a cost – burnout.
I want to help break that stigma. In 2020 I’m intentionally slowing down. I’m putting quality over quantity, and I’m taking time to work with intention instead of blindly powering through my to-do list. Hustling is not the way forward.
A toxic mindset
Maintaining consistent, positive mental health has always been a struggle. It’s exacerbated by the skewed lens of social media and my strong desire to make it as a food photographer.
After reaching burnout in 2019, I realized that I need to put my mental health first. I have to celebrate the small wins, be grateful for where I’m at, and eliminate the triggers that send me into the comparison trap. A healthy mindset will be the foundation of my success.
Turning advice into rules
I spent too much time in 2019 worrying about my Instagram feed and process shots. Why? Because everyone says I should!
Not in 2020!
My life isn’t polished or put together; it’s messy. A carefully designed Instagram feed feels inauthentic for me and really just creates anxiety. I want to share what I love in the moment without worrying that the style isn’t consistent or I’ve shared too many flat lays in a row.
Process shots don’t fit into my style of photography and they add hours onto a shoot. I’m letting them go until I find a way to fit them neatly into my creative process.
These things over complicate my creative process so I’m letting them go.
I hope you’ve been inspired to look at your own creative process and define your version of success. If you’d like to share your thoughts, please send me a note in the comments.
Happy New Year everyone!