On a recent weekly PBH Clubhouse chat (join here if you’re interested!), we got to talking about personal and creative vulnerability. Brené Brown is an amazing speaker who I admire a ton. She's talked at length about how vulnerability can be powerful. One of her main messages is that having the courage to be imperfect opens you up to connection.
Sharing vulnerable parts of yourself allows you to empathize with others and form meaningful bonds.
Here are two of Brené Brown's talks on vulnerability:
So when it comes to personal and creative vulnerability, how much of yourself should we share? How personal should you be?
Like many things as a photographer, what you share is a personal decision made on a case by case basis. One thing I’ve shared with clients before–when it fits into the context of the situation–is that I've experienced a miscarriage. If I’m at a maternity shoot and the client says “this is the third time we've tried and we're so excited,” I can match that vulnerability by sharing my own story. Me being vulnerable opens up a space for connection that wouldn't have existed otherwise. I can share how excited I am for them, I can empathize with their struggle, and I can make them feel comfortable during the shoot.
When you’re the face of your business, there are times that you can deepen a relationship with specific clients by sharing parts of yourself.
This doesn't mean you have to go on social media and share your personal experiences with everyone. One of the interesting things Brené Brown reminds us of, though, is that being vulnerable requires boundaries. As a photographer, getting personal with clients can feel risky before it feels empowering. As a human being, sharing our struggles with others can be emotionally taxing.
Creative vulnerability is equally important for photographers. It can mean adding a unique style to your work that you've been afraid to try. It can mean launching a new project that is meaningful to your heart.
In any case, sharing a part of yourself in your work requires bravery.
Check out my recent blog post on Acting with Integrity to learn more about how being honest with yourself can help you be honest in your work. Reach out or add a comment below to let me know how you bring vulnerability into your work, and what challenges you've faced.