Don’t Stop Believing (For Women Only) by Tasra Dawson

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“For Women Only” is a new section of the blog featuring inspiring women, such as Tasra Dawson, sharing their experiences and encouragement with other women readers. Thank you to Tasra and our other blog contributors for sharing their hearts with us.

Don’t Stop Believing

Just over a month ago, I was sitting down to dinner with my husband, Ron Dawson, and photography veteran and educator, Scott Bourne. I felt intimidated, to say the least. Who was I, but a wannabe photography great. Regardless of how many images I’d taken, professional mentoring I’d received, seminars and workshops I’d attended, and shoots I’d completed, I still felt like a hack. Still cringing inwardly when I said I was a professional, since I didn’t earn a living completely with photography. That one dinner meeting changed everything for me. Or at least it was the beginning of that change. What happened? One person, Scott Bourne, got inside my head and heart and pulled out the dark feelings of inadequacy and doubt for all to see. Fun? No. Necessary? Absolutely. He challenged my assumption that what I did wasn’t worth 50 times what I was charging.

See, my primary focus in photography is on teen girls—unleashing the true beauty of every teen girl. My work with them through my company, Teen Identity Portraits and Teen Identity Magazine, extends far beyond taking their senior portrait or school picture. It goes to the heart of who they are, builds their confidence, and challenges them to embrace their natural, true, powerful beauty.

Yet despite my ability to surface that in young girls, I had been unable to do the same for myself. Chalk it up to years of living as a woman in a man’s world. You may not like hearing that, but isn’t it still true? Definitely true when I worked as a designer at Apple. Even in photography, I’ve been to conferences where the roster of speakers is predominantly male. Nothing wrong with men, but it doesn’t engender much confidence for my own success when I see the gender of “experts” so one-sided. Fortunately, with the encouragement and challenge of Scott Bourne, I decided to forget all of that and just make a stand, beginning that day, to be different. To someday be a photography great that could change the course of the industry and the individual worlds of teen girls across the nation. The latter being most important to me.

Emboldened by a challenge to improve my photography 300% in one year, I began a 365 day journey, tasra365, to be exact. This is my charge: ◦ Take at least 1 photo every day. ◦ Read at least 1 page in my camera manual every day. ◦ View other professional images every day.

The lessons I’ve been learning from this 365 day photography challenge have been quite unexpected. While I expected to learn more about my camera, exposure, lighting, etc., I didn’t really plan to learn more about myself as a person—and as a photographer. The number one lesson I’ve learned? I am my own worst enemy and sell myself too short. Have you ever been there? Are you selling yourself too short—focusing on your flaws and weaknesses, rather than your strengths and passion? Why not change it all today? It’s possible in a moment to step into a new reality and begin using your talents, gifts, and ideas to inspire and encourage the world. The world needs what you have to offer. Don’t keep it to yourself. Believe in who you are and what you can become and the world will open its arms to you.

Written by Pictage Member and Photographer: Tasra Dawson

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