I once heard someone say that if you surround yourself with people you aspire to be like, it will inspire and motivate you to achieve similar success. That notion resonated with me, so I set off to surround myself with creative people who excel at the things I’m interested in; blogging, food photography and recipe development.
I was very successful that way. Indeed, today I am not only connected with successful food bloggers, photographers and cookbook authors, I’m actually friends with them. And while this has been an amazing blessing, it’s also been a curse.
Every day when I check my Facebook feed, I’m bombarded with posts that show another amazing food picture, an announcement of a cookbook deal and stories of milestones met. And while I am sincerely happy for my friends, I can’t help but feel badly about my own progress with my personal food blogging goals.
And this is kind of hysterical if you think about it because even though I haven’t written on A Beautiful Bite in five weeks, my traffic continues to grow. It grows in spite of myself.
So what’s the deal? Why am I not writing on that site? Because I am artistically paralyzed. Try as I may, I cannot master food photography. It’s one of those things that I struggle with. Sure, my pictures aren’t awful. They are fairly decent and if I didn’t have a basis of comparison, I’d probably be rather pleased with my progress.
But because I cleaved to that notion of surrounding myself with people who excel at food photography, I can’t help but admit that it isn’t what it should be. Or what it could be if I just tried harder.
Not one to give up easily, I reached out to one of those fabulous friends on Facebook who’s always posting gorgeous pictures to ask for some guidance as to what I’m doing wrong. And being the generous type, my friend Lollie agreed to spend the day with me, teaching me how to properly use my camera.
Thank God for generous friends.
Lollie shoots with a Nikon while I shoot with a Canon. That doesn’t sound very different to people who don’t understand photography. But trust me, it’s a big deal. She basically had to figure out how to use my camera before she could teach me what I was doing wrong.
She even went as far as to look at my pictures on A Beautiful Bite to get a feel for what I was missing. Once again, I’m lucky to have friends who care enough to devote the time to help me.
Between sips of coffee and searches on Google for Canon help, Lollie made the necessary changes to my camera settings that will help me take better photos. Oh, and she showed me the difference a tripod can make to a photo. No more handheld shots for this girl.
The above image is one of the shots we took this morning. Already I can see a difference as the image is sharper and warmer in tone than the images I’ve taken previously. A major step in the right direction.
And while that is all well and good, that’s not the point of this post today. What I want to do today is encourage you.
If you are struggling with learning something new, don’t give up. I know that it’s easy to fall into that mindset that we are too old to learn a new trick. Because when I’m struggling with my camera, this is my fall back response. I’m too old to learn something new.
But whenever I start to feel that way, I remind myself of Julia Child.
Did you know that she was in her 50′s when she became the Julia that we know and admire today? Did you know that she was 37 when she enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu? And that she was 49 when she published her first cookbook which was quickly followed by her television show at the age of 50?
I don’t use this example because I aspire to be famous like Julia. That is not one of my goals. What I draw from her life is the spirit of not giving up. To learn and grow every single day. Even in the face of frustration. Even if I don’t compare to my peers. Even if I can’t produce the same quality of work that my friends are producing, it’s ok.
Every day that I learn something new, it’s a step above where I was yesterday. Learning does not come easy to me when it comes to this one thing. But with each day that goes by and with the assistance of friends who truly care, I am moving forward and my skills are improving.
And even if I learn at a snail’s pace, can you imagine where this snail will be in a few years if she keeps slugging away?
How about you? Is there something that you would like to do but you find it challenging? Is there a new skill you’d like to learn but are too intimidated to try?