I’ve been thinking a lot about “organic growth” and no, I’m not talking about growing food here. I mention it a couple of times in an interview I recently recorded to promote my on-location A Sense of Place workshops coming up in England in September and October. In the interview (below), I talk about how I learned photography organically. By that I mean naturally and slowly, growing and evolving over the last twelve years. It wasn’t like I set out one day and decided, “I am going to become a photographer!” and take a course of study at a university. I started by creating a few good photographs. Wondering how I could create them more consistently. Buying a new camera. Taking a class. Practicing a lot. Reading a book or two. Taking another class. Taking more photographs. Writing about my photographs. Falling in love with photography. All this over a period of years.
There were some times of dramatic growth, like when I took an online course called Photography 101 in 2007. It covered the basics I had already learned — aperture, shutter speed, etc. — but for some reason this time it really clicked at a deeper level. Even then, it wasn’t a light switch change. It was an evolution over the 8 week course and beyond. Now I can look back on that as a significant “moment” but it really occurred over months.
I think this is an important thing to remember. Growth does not happen overnight. At least natural, sustainable growth doesn’t. Most of the time, it’s a day-by-day journey of growing by millimeters. It’s the sustained growth over long periods of time that gets us to a new place. Like this fantastic rusty mailbox scene found in Astoria… It didn’t appear overnight. It took years for the mailbox to rust, for the ivy to grow. It took years of someone letting this little spot alone to grow.
That’s what organic growth is. Slow, sustainable growth. This applies to photography or business or even personal growth in life. Sometimes, we look at someone we admire, and we want to be where they are now. We want to be that fantastic photographer. We want to be that successful business owner. We want to have that kind of confidence in ourselves. But we can’t get there by leapfrogging all of the work it takes to get to that place. Sure, we can make it easier on ourselves. We can learn from others how they got there. There is so much wonderful information available. We have books and classes and articles and videos all at our fingertips here on the web. But it still takes our own action. It takes practice, and moving ahead, that little step at a time, to get where we want to go.
I think organic growth is the best kind of growth. At least, I’ve discovered that it is for me. It’s the kind of growth that lets me adapt to my environment. It’s the kind of growth that lets me try something out and change course if I need to. It’s the kind of growth that doesn’t commit me to too much, getting into overwhelm. It’s the kind of growth that integrates what I’m learning into a stable foundation, so that each time I take a step up or out of my normal zone the world doesn’t collapse beneath me.
I tell you all this today so that you can be encouraged. That goal you have? The place you want to go? You can absolutely get there. Just don’t try to do it overnight. Give yourself time to grow.
PS – That lovely voice with the English accent you hear in all of my interviews is my dear friend and PR consultant in England, Fiona Pattison. You probably can’t tell because she edited it so beautifully, but we were laughing like crazy as we recorded this interview, over very silly mistakes. Fiona has definitely been an important part of the organic growth of Kat Eye Studio!
And the giveaway winners are…
Out of 107 entries…
#28 Marji of Sun Breaks in the Forecast
I’m so excited to liberate these postcards to the lucky winners! Thanks to all of you who entered. I was surprised about all of the nice things you said to me as you entered, that was an unexpected bonus. Thank you for your lovely comments and your ongoing support! More giveaways are definitely to come. Giving things away is so much fun!