Exposed! :: Breathing Life into your Photos ::

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"Hey," I practically yelled over the internet, "I can relate!"

I was recently reminded of the benefits of breathing at work. Breathing while shooting? Isn't that obvious? Perhaps, but, the Publication Coach - Daphne Gray-Grant - recently reminded her newsletter readers about the benefits of breathing correctly in any fast paced creative pursuit.

You see, years ago when I was struggling to survive as a young photographer I discovered there's a difference between breathing and BREATHING. Finer photos (and a better business) became easier to produce.

In this edition of Exposed! we explore ideas related to making better photos starting with the most simple elements like breathing.

Daphne regularly sends out an e-newsletter 'Helping corporate writers work better, faster.' If you read Exposed! regularly you've benefited from the influence of her writing tips over the years. Recently she discussed her tendency to forget to breathe in high pressure situations. Her recent article explores the idea of breathing to help her work.

In the early days there was lots of stress, limited cash flow and minimal technical skills. I saw huge challenges ahead of me! Looking back years later I saw how whacky my life was.

I had stress related health 'stuff' and would get crippled as a big photo event, wedding or job, approached.

I stopped shooting big events and weddings for a while because they took such a toll. I found help and started to learn about breathing - among other things - that would allow me to perform better under pressure.

Below are ways to keep your insides ticking and your camera clicking!:

Whether winning a world championship (Dan Burke, above) or photographing a world champion you need to train yourself to perform!

  1. Breathe

    If you're reading this you're breathing enough to live. Most people breathe minimally - not expanding lungs to their full extent or their performances to their full potential. In the worlds of performance sports, yoga, meditation there have been studies and anecdotes of the power of breath.

    In their book, "Perfect Breath," Al Lee and Don Campbell interviewed athletes, explorers and artists about their experiences with proper breathing and performance. On their blog post "Breathing and sports performance" they suggest the benefits of conscious breathing, share stories of prominent achievers and suggest some simple steps to bring proper breathing benefits to you.

    Do some research on breathing whether related to yoga, meditation or sports - it's good for you. Proper breathing can help you perform in any part of life including your photography.

  2. Play

    Take some time to turn your brain off photography. Some of my best ideas come while skiing, running or, yawn, sleeping. Back in the rough years I worked like a demon. Whacky hours and little money. Over the years I worked smarter, played more and developed better ideas, better business practices, had more confidence, and started earning more money.

    In her blog, "Creativity at Work," Linda Naiman lists the "Top Ten reasons to Play." She lists sage advice as to why it is good to put the camera down or change the emphasis of photography from 'must perform' to 'let's play!' Too much pressure will make you crack!

  3. Make changes

    This is simple - if something's not working well try something different.

    We all follow patterns. We're human. Some patterns lead to success. Others lead to, erm, less ideal situations.

    Try something different with your camera. Try a whole different camera system (See last month's Exposed! newsletter for some ideas). And if you want to earn a living from your camera approach sales differently.

    The most important element of this exercise is to consciously observe what happens when changes are made.

  4. Develop support for yourself

    Working with others can help you make the changes. Help can be from your best friend or a total stranger. There is strength in numbers!

    Look for photo groups, events and ways to challenge your creativity. Amazing things can happen.

    15 years ago I was told - "Surround yourself with supportive people." It helps move your photography forward.

  5. Set goals

    Write down your goals - people that track their goals achieve success far more often than those who just dream.

    Daydreaming is an excellent practice. But be sure to follow up with goal setting and evaluation for a greater chance at achieving your photo dreams. Share the goals with someone - to keep you honest.

    Chip Wilson, founder of the rocketing success, LuluLemon, is a big fan of goal setting. He expounded on a study suggesting that highly successful people got there by setting goals. Lulu now encourages their patrons and staff to help themselves by setting and tracking goals on their "GoalTender" site.

Pro Perspective

Oh, where do I begin?!

The last 20 years have been fun, exciting and filled with high peaks and low valleys! From a photo perspective I was forced to make changes and find solutions to survive. I am a big believer in a strong network, new challenges and breathing well.

I was lucky in the early years - any fun time I allowed myself was filled with running, xc skiing, biking - things that force me to BREATHE more appropriately. I made it through some early bumpy years of working as a photographer. It gets easier with the right tools for support.


Start with learning to breathe... Follow the other steps, above.

Final Frame

Thanks for the reminder, Daphne!

Breathe (properly). Take photos. Have fun.