A Greater Story

A first step.

A couple of months ago, I attended wedding photographer Jonas Peterson’s workshop in London. I’ve been a fan of his for years and was excited to take part of all of his knowledge and experience; but mostly I was excited to finally meet him in person. The workshop lasted for two days and went by so fast. Too fast. Coming to the workshop, I actually didn’t think I would learn a whole lot more than what he had already taught me through his Formspring page. I knew exactly what gear and software he uses, I knew his approach to photography—I even want to think that I knew his life philosophy.

But there was one thing that got me thinking. One thing in particular.

At the end of day two, we all sat down on the couches by the TV screen, after having our first glasses of wine. Someone had requested him to critique our pictures, and he promised to do so. The thought of him looking at something I had done and giving me his thoughts about it, made my stomach ache. I listened to him critiquing a Polish girl’s pictures, but the only thing I could hear was my own voice echoing in my head: “Do you really want him to look at your pictures? This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get his personal feedback. You should take it. But can you take it?”

After a few minutes of mental breakdown, I heard a pause in the discussion with the other girl. Without thinking, I asked Jonas if he could critique my About page… There I am, sitting beside one of the world’s most famous photographers, and I ask for critique on my writing. I still don’t know where it came from or why that was more important to me, but that’s what came out of my mouth and he went for it.

I don’t know what I expected to hear. I don't even know what I wanted to hear. Watching him study my words on the big screen turned my stomach into knots. A moment later, he said:

“It’s… Good. I mean, it’s very well-written, with your ‘visual mind’ and all that. But I dare you to be even more personal. To show who you really are.”

I sat silent. Who am I? Well, I’m-a-photographer-who-travel-the-world-with-my-camera-and-whose-dream-is-to-become-a-full-time-wedding-photographer, *inhale*. That’s my story. Isn’t that enough? What else is there? And by the way, who is he, asking me to be all emotional?

Those thoughts have been coming back to me ever since. My perspective has always been that people don’t really want to listen to misery. I want to write about things that make people smile. Why should I focus on what’s tough, when there are so many things that are amazing about life?

Then I remember myself, judging people who only write about the beauty in their lives when I know that they cry themselves to sleep. I even call them ‘fake’.

Now I realize that I am one of them.

I decided a while ago that I want my branding words to be: classic and real. But how can my pictures be real, if I’m not real to myself? Don’t get me wrong, I always tell the truth and never say things I don’t mean and stand for. However, I’m not necessarily my whole self. What I write about is very calculated. My blog is a collection of sunshine and roses. But if I want to connect with people, I need to show who Sara Nilsson really is. What thoughts are going through her head; what makes her laugh and ache?

It’s a scary road, but also exciting. Hopefully this will be a way, not only to connect with people around me, but also to start connecting with myself. Allow myself to have certain thoughts, and to get past them. I am an optimist; I do look on the bright side of life. But I have thousands of feelings that grow inside of me that I never let out.

This was my first.

A Greater Story, London, Sara Elin Photography, Jonas Peterson Photography