I grew up not really knowing that I’m an introverted person.
Looking back on it, I remember sending myself to bed when I was little, and being one of the first to go to sleep at sleepovers. Even in college, my roommate Melody would tell me to ‘go to my room and close the door’ when I was wasn’t recognizing my own need for alone time.
Simply put, I become an unhappy human when I don’t get rest and quiet time alone. It’s become more obvious than ever this year in France, where I’ve spent huge amounts of time alone and have been pretty refreshed by it.
I did not draw the connection between my personality type and my work as a photographer until recently. Gradually, recognizing my introverted tendencies has proven to be a really important leverage point for my success as a photographer.
When I started doing photography as more than a hobby, I would pour every single ounce of energy into my events and shoots--weddings and portraits alike. I felt like a full-on entertainer, I was never ‘off’, and it was fun. But kind of exhausting...and unsustainable.
This ‘all-in, all the time’ attitude was fine when my work was more sporadic, but as I transition from on-the-side fun photographer to possible viable full-time career photographer, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on how I need to use my energy more tactfully and intentionally. It’s beneficial to me, as it helps me avoid a long-term burnout, but has a huge impact on my clients as well. I am able to serve them so much better when I recognize my own limits as a human and treat my energy as a precious resource instead of a bottomless pit.
I’ve made some tweaks to the way I operate that reflect a shift in mindset. Before, I saw myself as and acted like a go-go-go-rest person. Now, I’m truly to a go-rest-go-rest. I use my rest period to reflect on what’s been done, and what needs to be done. And I drink some water.
At weddings, this is reflected in my escape from the crowd when I shoot the invitation suite and rings at the beginning of the day. The bride is getting her hair and makeup done, the groom is somewhere else entirely, and I can gather all of my materials and work thoughtfully. I also really appreciate my meal break. Sometimes I sit and chat with guests or other vendors, but truly I prefer to find a quiet spot and recharge before the dance party begins.
If I do a day of mini-sessions or family portraits, I schedule a break between every single one. Usually I just sit in my car and scroll on my phone or eat a snack. What I previously saw as a ‘waste of time’ is quite the opposite; it’s worth money to be rested and ready to work with a new client. And ultimately, this practices helps me make money because I know I’m serving people as my best self.
Finally, I try and be creative with locations. Particularly in Northern Virginia, it can be tough to come up with fresh spaces that are easily accessible. However, it’s worth the time and effort. I know that I’m energized by new spaces, so I cherish the quiet time spent researching and scouting new locations.
I love photography because it allows me a medium to create in a way that I never thought I could. What I didn’t anticipate about it, and what I’ve truly learned to love, is that most of the work is behind the scenes, and couples beautifully with my introverted tendencies. So for the 90% of the time when I’m alone and plotting and scheming, I’ve got it down. For the other 10% when I’m photographing and releasing extroverted Ewinn (she certainly exists), I’m learning to be more patient with my limits and treating my energy like a queen.
Which version of me do you identify with? Are you a go-go-go-rest, or a go-rest-go-rest?