Cleaning the Viewfinder

I have my website with a company that offers the ability to add and change things at will without waiting for my webmaster to do it. Today, in addition to changing ALL the fonts (!), I had been tweaking the info on my contact form. 

The item in question was in scheduling a screening call, to see if we clicked, and to make an appointment to meet in person, so over a calmer, more relaxed time, I could see them, and could get the information to see how to help.  

Just contemplating the sentence that I could not discuss price before I understood the parameters of the project flooded my nervous system with past memories of all the people that had done JUST THAT:

A caller would tell me the bare bones of a project, then immediately ask how much it would cost.  Or not tell me very much at all, and make the give-and-take of a conversation as painful as pulling teeth. Maybe they were price/comparison shopping, maybe they weren’t serious and would never show up, but it would depress and bother me for days that I had blown a conversation with someone who had called me.

That frustrating kind of conversation suddenly seemed like a perfect metaphor for the way I felt people were seeing me and my work, and filled me with such a sudden, heated surge of anger and resentment, I had to step away from the computer until I cooled down.

The inner movie of being ignored and disregarded, now started, kept playing on:

The father arriving for his family portrait dressed in a wrinkled grubby white undershirt, disregarding all our planning in favor of a location and poses he thought was better.

A client misrepresenting the purpose of meeting and bringing his entire family dressed and prepared for a group portrait I had not been told about.

I had never known that people did this, but I have been ‘tricked’ like this two different times - one almost caused a medical issue because I had not been told one of the people was allergic to cats; I had no warning from the couple who came to my house for the pretext 'to discuss their engagement portraits' and brought their entire family.

And the pictures kept rolling one after another:

Not taking me seriously when I asked them to do (or not do) something .  

Haggling on price and skimping on quality.

Stealing work via screenshot and reprinting images cheaply or poorly.

Not answering communication in timely manner or ghosting me.

Challenges or defiance to my policies and suggestions, 

Misrepresentation by not telling me the full truth,

Outright sabotage of the session.

These images were obviously been something that I had pushed into my subconscious, and blindsided me for a bit, but instead of giving in to the part of me that wanted to let them all ‘talk to the finger,’ I let myself finally feel all these emotions,

and with my intuition as my guide, began to investigate with curiosity and a willingness to be conscious to what I had been doing.

The common thread that ran through all of these incidents was a lack of boundaries and 'backbone';

giving in on price and taking less (sometimes a lot less) than I asked for.

being wobbly on policies that were important to me,

letting myself be pushed around by bold or aggressive clients,

letting my easy-going nature be misinterpreted as weakness.

The lack of resolve has been reflecting itself in the work of the past years, and influencing my inner confidence in the current stages of moving forward.  

I am in a profession I love, and I want to continue to be in a profession I love, and appreciate the people who come to me.  So it is my responsibility to keep searching out the gaps in my protocols and policies, and strengthen them so that hidden resentment does not steal joy and cause me to become cynical or embittered. 

Though these things have indeed happened, each step I take today becomes the next one tomorrow.  I saw that my part in this is slower, more connected communication. 

To not be rushed or in a hurry to close the deal.

To know that not everyone who wants my work is my ideal client. 

To know my ‘deal-breakers’ and be able to stick to them.  

To listen to my gut.

And to keep a regular practice of self-examination and dusting out the cobwebs that build up in the corners,

so I am able to come to photograph and be ready, whatever happens, with clean sensors in my camera

and in me.