Being Outside of The Zone

How do I describe it?

It's a weird, far away look when your eyes aren't exactly crossed from effort, but instead seem to be staring off at something in the distance with extreme focus. Almost as if they were using, for lack of a better term for you Star Wars fans out there, "the Force" to try and move an inanimate object. Sometimes, there's even a slight hint of their brow furrowing in concentration.

Have you ever seen a painter deftly take their paintbrush and million colors to a canvas? Have you ever seen a basketball player suddenly focus in with a burst of superhuman speed and almost break that basketball hoop as they slammed in the winning point? Or even a guitarist's intense facial expression when just the right strum of a string on their guitar produces the right pitch of a note they heard in their mind?

They are all in "The Zone" - that moment where all is right in their world and they are riding a wave of enjoyment where their talents & skills align in perfection and as a result, produces something magnificent to share to the world. Whether it's a perfect parenting day or a great performance you put on as a musician.

It's an awesome place, "The Zone."  I've been there a few times myself as a photographer and it truly is all sunshine and perfection and chocolate - kinda like Disneyland happy, sans the overpriced lemonade. But on the flip side, because The Zone is so awesome, the times I am outside of it feels beyond frustrating. Like I'm flailing for a shred of encouragement that will serve as the creative oxygen my "photographer" lungs need. It sounds kind of nuts, but these are the times I feel creatively stuck and upset that all the practice and envisioning I did prior to a shoot is lost because something in me just froze.

It is in these areas outside of the Zone, I am left with the choice to grow and learn...or not. One of my closest friends is a basketball coach and it was a good thing I called her right when I was about to bring out the appetizers and balloons for my pity party - being held, where else? Outside The Zone.

She helped shift my thinking from: "sob-hiccup-sob-sob-SOB-hiccup-OMG-I failed at a photo shoot that was supposed to be nothing short of perfection, what's wrong with me?!"  into "Take baby steps next time and don't expect perfection for everything so soon / you are growing / you are learning / all of us have been there and yes we all have our challenging days, even coaches who coach others/ you can do this/ no, there's nothing wrong with you."

And she's right. *hiccup*

I say all of this because it sheds light on how I want to grow as a photographer. That the photo shoots I fumbled through are just as important as the ones that went perfectly and were carried out in The Zone of my creative world. Both experiences keep me pushing to learn, keep a hat of humility on, and ultimately grow and improve my craft. I would even reckon to say that this applies to you out there who are aspiring to be a better musician, a more effective coach, a better friend or even a better mother. That while being in The Zone is wonderful and everything you're doing is right and going perfect, being outside of it and having those rough days are equally as important because it helps you truly be the better coach/mother/friend/musician/athlete you aspire to be.

Whew. Kinda serious for a Monday, I know. =) On a lighter note, since blog posts are so much more fun with a photo, here's a sneak peak into the this weekend's photo shoot. As always, there's more to come, so stay tuned!