Wonder + Light


Wonder + Light writes about her art and imagery, explaining both her creative process and how it is defined by her life experience both past, present, and future.

Clouded Perspective: How shifting your perspective can shift your outcome

Lauren Midgley is a Conceptual Fine Art Portrait Photographer based in Norman, OK

In photography perspective is everything.  As photographers and creatives we make a living from selling our perspective.   We see what others don’t, we make it reality, and people pay us for that. But what do you do when clouded thinking alters your perspective and renders you stuck?  What do you do when your perspective becomes the very thing that holds you prisoner to your circumstance? You have to shift.

If you know or have followed me, you know that walking through brokenness with others is the name of my game.  I’m the weirdo that gravitates toward it. Often, brokenness can bring with it a sobered mindset, which I’ve come to deeply appreciate, but it can also bring clouded perspectives.  As I’ve been walking this out, I’ve found myself chewing on this piece of shifting my perspective for some time. Isn’t it funny how when a theme is planted in your heart, you suddenly see how it relates to everything--professionally and personally?

And to think Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton’s video was the trigger point.  

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend watching it as it has been a pandora’s box of inspiration to me.  When I look at a work like this, one thing seems clear… you must have an amazing team come together, in one harmonious vision, tasked with only one thing--you do you to further this vision.

When creatives align and have room to freely do what they do--It resonates! Ferociously.

Now, I’m admittedly a little embarrassed that you could lump me in the fan-girl category for Justin Timberlake, because I was the girl who flat refused to like NSYNC in high school.  However, as he matured from his former curly-haired-baby-face-days, JT has shown talent and creativity you cannot deny...and that music video was the tipping point for this blog-post-to-come..

It began with a rabbit-trail-of-thought where as I watched I asked myself what I would do if I had access to the same resources I saw at work in the video.  Which ultimately led me to ask myself how can I get close to creating that thing with the resources I have. Which led me to revisit this piece…

Lauren Midgley is a Conceptual Fine Art Portrait Photographer based in Norman, OK

…and shift the perspective to this piece…

Lauren Midgley is a Conceptual Fine Art Portrait Photographer based in Norman, OK

Which ultimately has become one of my top performing images to date and landed itself in a permanent spot for Photo Place Gallery’s Online “Altered Realities” exhibition.

Further still, if I could boil all of that down for a 5 minute interview with Justin (because we’d totes be on a first name basis), I would ask him only one question,

“What perspective(s) had to shift to get you where you are today?”  

That’s it.  

That’s all I’d want to know.

Okay, soooo I might ask my buddy Justin if he would connect me to his people so I can share the same creative connections.  Come on, I’d be stupid not too!

At any rate, I’ve been working on this thought-piece of how shifting your perspective can also shift your outcome dramatically, through the simple act of asking myself that question each time I come up against what feels like a road block. But in some instances,  my perspective was so clouded, I could not see it was wrong yet. I was still stuck in the struggle.  I was allowing my vision to be clouded by my perceived failures...failure to produce resources, failure of talent, failure to connect, failure to succeed.

Did you catch that? My vision was clouded by my perceived failures.

You see, I believe perspective can mislead you, break you, or make you.  It all depends on how you approach it and what you do with it.

For me, the right perspective always comes with the renewing of my mind in reading the bible and practice.

This past week I was invited to a private art exhibit where proceeds of sales would be donated to a local non profit.  When the owner of this non profit stood up to talk about the work he was doing, my tendency toward cynicism might have rendered me stuck at  ”here’s another dude with more money than he knows what to do with needing a tax break”. I’ll admit, that tends to be my unfortunate default, but knowing how unfair that is, I chose to shift. Quickly.  

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people”.

Brilliant words...so let’s focus on ideas shall we?

A really interesting thing happened when I shifted...Instead of standing in unfair shallow judgement, I was able to hear the extraordinary heart of a man with a vested interest in at-risk kids.  A man who was himself surprised at the exponential change taking place. What began as a relatively straightforward idea of improving sports fields and resources at inner-city schools has been directly reflected in the increase in graduation numbers and teens pursuing higher education, as well as lowering incarceration stats among the teens and young adults in the area. My perspective had shifted.

After listening to that, I had to shake that man’s hand.  So I did. Which I should point out, is a boldness that I did not previously possess due to the misperception that I don’t belong.

Furthermore,he introduced me to his right hand-- a lady who owns a branding and marketing company--also wildly successful by my current standards.  Among many hats she wears, she loves to help non profits reach their full potential by breaking through certain stereotypes around fundraising that cause them to plateau. As I stood and talked to her for a long time, she offered me a very interesting little morsel to chew on.  She said that she believes her company’s success rides solely on her positive perspective about fundraising, which contrasts with the traditional “check the box” perspective the rest of her profession carries. What a funny thing to say, but since we’re focusing on ideas, let me explain how it applied to my personal experience.

This week I heard a fellow creative say that she felt she was invisible to her audience.  It broke my heart. That used to be a HUGE struggle of mine that ultimately caused me to remain stuck in my business and online presence.  For me it boiled down to the lie that I don’t belong. I shared with her a quote I read in “Braving The Wilderness” that was a catalyst for breaking that misperception:

Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.
— Brene Brown, Braving The Wilderness,

What a perspective shift!  One that I have traversed personally.  

You see, three years ago I set out to start my photography business and was failing miserably as of late last year.  I believe it’s because I didn’t yet believe that my perspective behind a camera carried worth. I believe God frustrated my efforts to get me to hone in on my unique perspective which cannot be duplicated by another.  If I had not been bored and frustrated to tears, if I had something left to lose--professionally speaking, I would not have found my most honest voice behind the camera. I would not have determined that my photographic perspective was worth the price I command and I would still be negotiating my worth with clients who wanted to spend less.

Let’s hang out here for just a second...

As creatives, it’s a tough business, amirite?  As a photographer, I would sometimes have prospective clients come to me because they love my work/perspective, but they didn’t love my price and they want me to do it “this” way.  

How, pray-tell, does that work?  Who hired who?

Clients, let me tell you this...if you ask a creative to bend their vision to yours, they may acquiesce because they want the business, but the outcome will disappoint because you have quenched the very creative spark that drew you to them in the first place.

And, if you saw and admired the work of a creative...BUUUUYYYYY IT. Don’t run off to a big box store and buy the cheap, mass-produced, not original, wanna-be-art. Because every time a bell rings...another artist starves to death for a bullshit cheap imitation. Trust us, will you?  We’re professionals! ;)

I digress...

My efforts were frustrated, but it brought me to a place of demanding my worth.  Of realizing that me and my work’s worth remains even if it is not appreciated by the masses. Because someone will and that connection is worth everything to me! I believe God orchestrated the frustration of my efforts to show me that I was aiming for the wrong thing.  Instead, I realized I’ve got something to say and the right people haven’t heard it yet. I made the choice to speak my truth even if no one appears to be listening, because my voice matters even if it’s not appreciated by the masses. The things I have to say won’t be relevant to everyone, but they will be relevant to someone.

That is what it’s about amirite?

Just because I personally do not love Picasso’s work doesn’t mean his work doesn’t have worth now does it?

It’s all about the shift.  And if you shift the right direction, so will your outcome.

If my perspective had not shifted, I would still be shedding tears that I did not have the resources I needed to do what I was doing. I’d still be making excuses that my camera isn’t the one I need. It isn’t, but it works doesn’t it? I’d still be complaining that I don’t have a great wardrobe to work with, but as it turns out a tank top and shorts are good enough.  Without being brought to my knees and asking God “what gives?!”... I would not be doing what I am doing. I would not have seen the increase that I have or be connecting with the people I am.

There are so many more examples I could share concerning this oh-so-powerful shift, but what it really comes down to is this one introspective question:

What perspective(s) do you need to shift in order to massively change your outcome?

Is it your belief about your worth? you work? Or something else?

If you can answer that one question. Again and again. I can guarantee you will make a shift in the right direction.