It never dawned on me until recently. I just always beat myself up for not understanding or remembering basic things. Directions. Board game rules. Material for an exam.
I will read about photography until my eyes descend into a weary sleep. When I awake or put it into practice, I can't remember what I've read. Michael will say to me, you've been doing this for a year, how can you not know this yet?
Before you go thinking you shouldn't hire me for your wedding, be aware that I always find a way to get to the finish line. It just seems that I take the long and hard route to get there.
It never entered my mind that I could have a learning disability. I've never really spoke about it to anyone, just sat in frustration when I couldn't understand something. I would lock myself in a corner at my University library reading the same bloody sentence, over and over again and not understanding what I was reading. So, I would do whatever I could to survive those challenging years. I made up poems and rhymes to help me remember content for an upcoming test. I got my degree. Most of my high marks came from my writing assignments as I excelled in that department but when it came time to recite back what I had learned in the form of an exam, I froze. I remember after our exams, my friends chirping about how easy it was and I silently cried inside: I so failed that exam. I would smile back and agree about how simple it was! When I think back to those days, even school marks were a competition with women.
Michael says it's not so much that I don't understand. He says that my mind never stops and so instead of absorbing the present, I am thinking ahead to what will happen next. This bodes well for me on a wedding day, as I am always prepared for what events are about to unfold.
Photography is a lot of numbers. I'm not a math person at all, yet oddly enough when I was younger, I excelled. Until Grade 13 Finite math entered my world. That quickly ruined my love of numbers and I dropped the course. I find myself frustrated when I am not understanding why the camera does what it does. A friend of mine asked me...is it necessary to know when you produce gorgeous photos, despite being unsure of the fill flash, ISO, shutter speed and aperture equation? It is necessary for me to know, to get it, to have an a-ha moment. I've had so many of those in my life. I will do something until I am blue in the face until one day it sinks in.
Sometimes it never sinks in. I always find myself directionally challenged, although living in Toronto certainly surprised me, I was rocking the north south east and west like I was born there. When you grow up in a small town, everything is left or right at landmarks. So I have come quite far. Until you put me in a new city and ask me which direction west is. I still don't know. But as my mom said, this is why God created GPS!
I once had a nasty relative tell me that it was discussed that it was a good thing I was cute, because I didn't have a brain in my head because I always got lost. And yet at the time, I lived on my own in Toronto, headed up an ISO 9001 2 year project for our company to become certified, landed a $60,000 a year job in the financial district, and still was the only one in my family to have a University degree.
My younger cousins are now graduating with degrees and I am so proud of them as I know the dedication and hard work it takes to obtain it. To this date, my degree is something I am most proud of (besides my marriage). I worked hard at it and it hangs on my wall. It gets me places I would have otherwise been turned away from and it's something that can't be taken away. I earned it, I worked hard, I had many sleepless nights fearing I would fail...and yet 15 years later, I have the same fears with my new business.
I remember a scene with Cameron Diaz in the movie In her shoes. She was working in retail and being yelled at because she couldn't understand the cash or the amount of change to give someone. She was so frustrated and sought a life working as a stylist with older people in a retirement community. That was something she was good at.
In a way, we all find ways to survive in life. Some of us are not social creatures yet find a way to survive at office parties, family events and social functions. Some of us are not creative and yet we find a way to help our children with a school project. Some don't do well at school and yet go on to run successful companies. Some of us are directionally challenged and yet we find our way.
I second shot a wedding in Owen Sound this past summer. My worst fear happened. I was left alone on a massive golf course, to find my way to the 15th hole where the 12 guys were. I literally wanted to cry as the main photographer drove off with her friend to photograph the girls. There I sat on the golf cart with my camera gear and a fast beating heart. I took a breath and told myself that I could do it. I was yelled at by someone for driving by when they were teeing off. Woops. I didn't know the rules. I've golfed once in my life.
I cursed every four letter word you can imagine when I found myself driving on a gravel road with dumpsters along the way. This can't be right, I thought to myself. Fuck. I was off the golf course and on the main road. I am chuckling about it now because somehow I found my way, but it felt like my world was caving in. The photographer reminded me that this was something I would have to do if I wanted to be a photographer. Anything can happen and you have to find your way. And I did.
When I was small, I was at a restaurant with my family. I went to the washroom and walked into the kitchen instead of the bathroom. The kitchen staff laughed and this is something silly I have always carried with me. To this date, in a restaurant, I need to find where the washroom is before I will go. We all have our idiosyncrasies and it strikes me as odd that I can stand up and be in charge of an entire wedding, yet a memory so tiny from my past haunts me. On my first date with Michael, when I left the washroom, he was waiting for me outside to walk me back to our table. I knew he was a keeper.
When I start to panic in a situation, I find ways to survive. One of the first weddings I second shot, I was having issues with my camera. It was not in my best interest to ask another photographer for help, as it made me appear that I didn't have a clue about what I was doing. He offered me a piece of advice that I held onto for dear life. The shutter speed must be at least the maximum length of the lens. I stored that information in the front of my brain and shot at 1/200th of a second for most of the ceremony without any camera shake. I survived my first ceremony and it was because I found a way. When I get lost, I quickly remember landmarks to find my way back. When I'm in a situation that I'm not familiar,
I find a way to blend into the crowd, whether it's making rude jokes with the groomsmen, or talking nails and fashion with the bridesmaids, or listening intently to a grandparent recount their story.
I may not be a traditionally smart person. I can't remember what I study. I suck at math. I don't understand rules to a board game until I've played a few times. And I certainly still get lost from time to time.
But one thing you can be assured of. I will always find my way. Even if I take the long and difficult gravel path to get there.
This is usually the run down of my day: check facebook, email, pinterest, edit, get distracted by facebook updates, think how much I suck, then get a wedding request and think how far I've come, facebook, check wedding photography sites, talk to my dog, save inspiration albums, check out tutorials, laundry, compare myself to photographers, think how much i suck, get sweet texts from my friends telling me i don't suck, eat, edit, read, stress, make lists, check off lists, check bank account, cry, check facebook and email, worry about the future, hug my husband, go to sleep and then repeat.
This morning I awoke to four wedding requests for 2012. Today I feel I suck a bit less, but there is still laundry. Always laundry.
My old friend Jordan and I used to joke that there were some people we could only hang around if there were three people. Do you ever find some relationships easy and free flowing yet others, when trying to converse are like getting water from wood? Impossible?
I'm naturally an introvert which surprises many but the definition is not how social you are, it's how you recharge your batteries in your down time. Extroverts recharge by being around people constantly. Introverts recharge a little more low key. After a weekend of events, my inner introvert emerges and I spend some time alone, at home or just with my family. It's where I am at peace.
I'm not sure what it is about me that feels the need to make everyone feel comfortable. When there are awkward silences, I feel it is my job to quip a goofy remark, just to fill the sound of the imaginary chirping birds in the room. Why is that? Others are quite comfortable with one word answers and then silence and eventually, my energy gets so low that the old expression 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em' kicks in.
When I am the person in the room that knows nobody, I walk around and find a way to fit in. This does not come easily for me but it's something I'm good at. My girlfriends and I always find it strange when others are not inviting. We are so inviting and welcoming when someone new comes to a party or is invited into our circle. It is never easy being the new person. I somehow feel it is my role to bridge any awkward silences, and it usually comes with a nervous joke at my own expense.
Laughing at myself usually seems to ease people. Yesterday, I photographed some successful and well to do women. I posed them for a group shot and there was a silence in the room.
Chirp chirp chirp.
I felt the need to let them all know I hate when people look at me and here I was, telling them all to stare straight at me and smile. This resulted in fits of laughter and I got the candid shot I was looking for.
Do people naturally take on social roles? Do some humans feel responsible for everyone and everything, including their mood and comfort level and others just naturally are not as affected?
I received this beautiful note and necklace in the mail yesterday from a woman who I've yet to photograph. We don't know each other but have become familiar through a mutual friend. It is random acts of kindness such as these that inspire me and allow me to believe that good outweighs evil in life.