Lessons from a Recovering Perfectionist

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I recently had a photo shoot with my good friend @katieiredalee. I couldn’t tell you how excited I was to get these photos done. I thought getting photos taken with her would elevate my website and make it more professional, and I was definitely right about that. What I didn’t expect is to have some photos turn out less than perfect.

When putting together the looks for this shoot, I started by thinking about my brand colors. From there, I started to pull pieces from my wardrobe that fit with my brand aesthetic. I put together four outfits in total, and created visually appealing outfits that would seamlessly fit in with the look and feel of my website.

Truthfully, I had one outfit in particular I was most excited to shoot. About 2 years ago I found a vintage fuchsia skirt from an online thrift store that I immediately fell in love with. It looked striking, had a Guatemalan flair to it—for reference, I’m Guatemalan so that’s something that I really love—and fit me perfectly. I carefully crafted an outfit around this piece and created a look that made me look like a boss babe that was ready to get some sh*t done!

When I got the photos back from the shoot, I was initially a bit disheartened, to say the least. I realized upon receiving the photos that my necklace was crooked in the photos taken in my outfit with the bad ass skirt. I was upset because I had paid quite a bit of money for my shoot and the photos weren’t perfect. Plus, that was the outfit I was most excited to shoot, and I felt like the photos were a failure.

I was upset for a good fifteen minutes, pondering what I could do to rectify the situation. It was in that moment that my boyfriend suggested I Photoshop my necklace if it really bothered me that much. Flabbergasted, I took his suggestion seriously.

When I got home later that day, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to edit the photos. Sometimes you try to Photoshop stuff and it just doesn’t work. I was determined though and I wasn’t going to let myself fail. After a few attempts with the first photograph from the series, I managed to edit my necklace in a way that I thought looked classy and professional. The necklace no longer looked crooked by the time I was done editing!

This gave me confidence, and I was able to edit most of the photos to my personal satisfaction.

I was honestly surprised by how good of a job I did on the photos. I didn’t realize how easy it would be for me to manipulate my necklace and change the shape of it with Photoshop. It was in this moment that I realized, I’m pretty damn good at editing on Photoshop. All the hard work I have been putting toward learning how to use the program has been paying off. I should feel proud of my skills and feel confident using them when working with clients.

This moment was a big learning experience for me. I gained a lot of confidence in my skills and discovered a lot about my talents. Nevertheless, I do not want this post to be viewed as a billboard for perfectionism.

My initial reaction to my photos was caused by societal pressure to seem perfect. I am in a very competitive field and I feared that the lack of perfection in my photos could make or break me landing clients in the future. Not only is that reaction ridiculous, it doesn’t make sense. This was proven to me when I showed the photos to a few of my close friends. They all said they wouldn’t have noticed my crooked necklace if I hadn’t mentioned it to them.

I want you to know you do not have to be perfect in everything that you do. It is OK to not have absolutely perfect photos. Most likely, if I hadn’t been able to edit the necklace in my photos, I would have still used them on my website. After all, there’s nothing wrong with them. Most of the shots are beautiful. The only issue with them is a small imperfection that made me feel unworthy.

This experience has taught me a lot about myself, a lot about my skills and a lot about society. We have to work together to break the stigma of perfectionism and not allow it to hinder us as designers. I was able to overcome my emotions and use my skills to my advantage, but that doesn’t make my initial photos any less amazing.

That’s why I’m sharing this post with you all. I want you to know that no matter what, there is always more to learn and more value to be gained from the less perfect options in life.

What are your thoughts on perfectionism? I’d love to hear how you have overcome perfectionism in your own life in the comments below.