The email came in on a Thursday. "Ok, you're hired." And all I could think was "oh crap."
After 9 years as a food blogger & food photographer, you'd think working as an on-set food stylist wouldn't feel terrifying. After all, I've worked for major-major brands. Created photos for big names: Disney, General Mills, Good Cook.
But new is scary. And suddenly, I felt like a newb again.
Unsure. Unsteady. Imposter syndrome, big time.
It happens. Whenever you push yourself into a space wide enough for growth, you step into the insecurity that comes with openness and vulnerability. Like Katniss at the Cornucopia (Hunger Games? Anyone?), you're in such an unfamiliar place, you don't know which way to look to keep bows and arrows at bay. But staying safe means staying stuck. So there's only one thing to do: welcome the "oh crap" moments. Step into the scary.
Because it is THERE, in that scary space, where growth happens. We step out of comfort zone and into the Growth Zone. It is there where we something new, knowing that it's only new once. Doing the New is how you go from first-timer to long-timer. The only way to become Expert is be willing to become Learner.
You know "fake it until you make it"? I'm more a believer in "market yourself as a do-er and you'll be amazed at all you CAN DO."
Hours after I sent my resume (with exactly ZERO 'on-set food styling experience'), I got the job.
It was official. I'd stepped into the Growth Zone.
A few truths that help me minimize fear when I am here:
1. Ask for the Expectations.
All any client ever wants is a job well done.
To do a job well done, you have to know what the job is.
It's not amateur to ask what the client needs (or what the job entails). In fact, the most important way to distinguish yourself as a professional is to immediately ask for expectations. THEN study those expectations, memorize them, learn them from head-to-toe, and find ways that you can meet the needs or problem solve the concerns.
Do this, and you'll have clients clamoring for your mad skills (even if those mad skills are kind new. And you yourself aren't even totally sure that you have mad skills yet).
2. Trust What You Know, Learn What You Don't.
So you're staring down something new, but you aren't a newborn. You've lived! You've done stuff! You have a whole lifetime of experience. You know more than you think you know.
Trust what you know.
In the case of this specific gig, I'd never been an on-set food stylist before. But I HAVE managed my own studio and organized thousands of shoots from my own space before. So I started thinking through everything I needed to make a food shoot go well.
Comparing this new job to one I was already familiar with helped me kick a lot of doubt to the curb. Realizing that I was well equipped with the tools I needed to nail this gig calmed most of my nerves.
Reframing my own fear of inadequacy was step one. Step two: removing as much of the unknown as possible. I watched food styling videos, googled for answers to any questions I could think of, and generally bombarded my brain with as much preparation and knowledge as possible. I was fine feeling novice, but was not fine with feeling unprepared.
3. Take Action.
With your mind now in awareness of your general radsaucery, it's time to GET MOVING. Conscious forward motion is how we GET. THE. SH*T. DID.
Once I got past the "oh crap" moment, it was time to become the badass I knew I could be. Time to visualize, organize and ACT LIKE A PROFESSIONAL.
Professionals are problem solvers. They know the right questions to ask. And then, they become the answers.
Questions I knew I needed to ask and answer:
- How did the client want this shoot to go?
- How did I want this shoot to go?
- What tools did I need to make it run smoothly?
- What tools did I need for the crew to be glad I, personally, was the one in the room with them?
Then, I made lists, compiled boxes, started moving. With in minutes, worry had been replaced with excitement.
So How Did the Shoot Go?
Stay tuned! Hint Creative gave us permission to film inside the shoot. So you'll get to how it all went down on next weeks' episode.
Superquick sneak peek: as I was packing up props after the shoot, I had this incredibly funny feeling of "what was I so worried about?" Except for a few minor glitches, the job was a success and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Line added to the resume. Officially experienced and ready for the next go-round.
Isn't it nice, how quickly you can go from zero to hellloooo?
Tell me your survival secrets for stepping into the Growth Zone?
I'd love to hear about a time when you did something you felt totally unprepared for. Or the fears that you feel are holding you back.
This weeks episode was shot with a Canon 5D Mk III paired with a SigmaArt 35mm Lens. Since my videographer hand holds for most shots, we rely pretty heavily on the "Warp Stabilizer" effect in Premiere Pro to keep the shots from bugging your eyes out. That effect is life. Give it a try!
Wanna get even more of Food Photographer geek on? Find tricks, tips and answers 24/7 in my Food Blogging, Photography & Videography Facebook Group. It's free to join!