Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Creativity Versus Competitiveness | Katie McGihon

> > > Oh Katie. Where do I start with this girl? We met on Twitter, became instant friends because of our worship leading connections. She asked me to Flemings for champagne and calamari and I didn't have the guts to tell her I hated seafood, so I went. I LOVED the calamari and we've been friends ever since. She is a phenomenal photographer and has the sweetest spirit of inspiration. You'll love her. ~JM

“Stop looking at other photographers’ work.” 
Two years ago, a certain magazine editor said those six words that changed my life. It was as simple as that. She said it like it was the easiest, and most logical thing to do. 
But it shocked me. 
“Why should I do that? How would I know what everyone in my industry was doing? How would I know if my work was as good as-- or better-- than theirs? How would I know if they were copying my images?”
I was in a panic. I had to protect myself. I had to be educated and well informed. I had to know what everyone was doing, saying, and shooting at all times...or did I?
At the time, I was “making the rounds” with my morning coffee. Let me tell you, “making the rounds” is sick, unnecessary, and was basically eating me alive. As I sat down at my desk to begin my workday, one thing that was always on my to-do list was to check-in on everyone, and see their most recent work. At times, I was impressed. Occasionally, I laughed. More often than not, I felt violated. 
I felt like my work was being copied. I felt like the wording on my website was being stolen and even my music choices were being emulated. I wrestled with the desire to protect myself, and the fear of confrontation. That violation of my mind was exhausting. I was constantly consumed with the “what if’s”, “why’s” and the “it’s not fair’s”.
Eventually, it all came to a head during a workshop in Los Angeles, Calif., when a wise woman set me straight. 
That conversation in the fall of 2010 changed my life. I was sitting in a room with 20 strangers at a workshop, being guided and coached by some of the industry’s finest. I wrote feverishly, filling almost an entire notebook with thoughts, verses, and epiphanies; they have stayed with me over these past two years. The fact is, I don’t have to know what my peers are doing and what their work looks like. Even better was the realization that I don’t have to care, either.
Imagine waking up, and only worrying about yourself.
I remember the day I made the decision to only focus on myself, on my work. From that moment on, every phone call, email, blog post, styled portrait, engagement session and wedding was like an untarnished gift. They were my chance to be myself, let my creativity pour out, and to make a difference in my client’s lives. My words and actions became more intentional. My thoughts were more godly and I could finally breathe again. 
Why hadn’t I done this sooner? 
Are you currently torturing yourself by “making the rounds”? 
Comparison stifled my creativity. It caused me to shut down, to unnecessarily stress about upcoming shoots and to doubt myself. When we doubt ourselves and our God-given abilities, we are in essence doubting God...and that’s not something I want to be accused of doing.
Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well”.  God made only one of me. No one else can be me and no one else can take my place. He also made only one of you.
And oh how beautiful you are! 
You can choose to wake up every day and compare yourself to others. You can stifle your creativity and let doubt invade your soul, or you can choose to believe God’s promises for your one, beautiful life. But I choose to thrive, to grow, and to better myself without comparison.
What do you choose? 

>Talk to her on Twitter @maxandpoppy 

Katie McGihon is a wedding photographer, blogger and worship leader in Palm Springs, California. She holds herself to God’s standards, and is grateful to wake up every day and do what she loves. She is a wife to Scott, and Momma to Aden and Ava.

**This post is part of July's Blog Series, The Bad and Beautiful of Creativity. Missed one? Catch up here. 
^^^Opinions, two-cents, questions and ramblings are welcome. And go above. Go ahead. Try it.

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