My first engagement shoot

Portrait photography is my thing. I love exploring new ways of seeing people, of sharing their stories, of sharing the spectrum of human emotion.

So when I offered a pair of close friends the gift of an engagement shoot I was totally upfront with them: this was my first, I would probably be gaining a lot more from the experience than they would, but they would be happy with at least one thing from the shoot.

But I was scared - feeling perhaps I had stepped farther outside my comfort zone than I was ready for.

I've been thinking a lot about creative fear recently as my team at the DOE embarks on designing new tools for educators and support staff. It's hard to break away from conventions. Bar graphs are easy. Good bar graphs are really hard.

And so when I first began to look for ideas an inspiration, I realize I went about it all wrong. I looked at Pinterest boards with titles like "top 50 engagement poses for the fall" and other eye-glazing leads. I was preparing for an engagement shoot by doing what other people did, not by reflecting on why they had agreed to do it with me.

That was the most important insight I took away from the day. I was so worried about delivering something conventional and "likeable" I lost confidence in what they liked about the work they had already seen. It was only until later in the shoot, when I began to feel my rhythm more, that the shots we took together were more inspired and authentic to my style.

Not gonna lie - when their invite came with a few photos from the shoot I was over the moon. I'm pretty sure I would have paid for the opportunity for the chance to make them something special.