The Power of Progress: Recognising and Appreciating How You've Grown

Sometimes it's hard to see how much you change, grow and develop in any part of your life. Most life changes happen so gradually that they barely feel like changes. But every once in a while you'll do something or see something from your past and you say 'was that me?' 


Yea well, I realised this month that creative work is exactly the same. 


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I know it is generally agreed that there is some value in looking back at your past work and appreciating how far you have come. We all get stuck in this vicious cycle of being overly critical of our work and striving for perfection that we fail to see how much we have improved and that we are doing just fine. 


Don't worry though, i'm not writing at you from a point of pure blissful self realisation expecting you to never be critical of your own work. Hell no. I will never be perfect, i'm overly critical and sometimes just don't have the most confidence in my work if i'm honest, but i'm slowly beginning to get better at giving myself some credit where it's due. 


And this is the shoot that changed my mindset for the better.


 December 15th 2016 in Ponsonby

December 15th 2016 in Ponsonby

 December 15th 2017 in Ponsonby

December 15th 2017 in Ponsonby


If you follow my Instagram (@charlottesoniaturner) you may have seen me posting about this shoot I did with Anna of, like I typically do all my shoots with her. She is a stylist and blogger based here in Auckland, as well as being one of my very good friends, and once or twice a month for well over a year now we have gone out shooting to get content for her blog. It was an awesome thing for me because I got to play around with portraiture and fashion photography a bit and develop my skills with someone who I love and who honestly grew with me as a model too.


This shoot we did in December we managed to do two variations of two outfits in an hour (4 total, 15 mins each), which was record time for us and was something to be proud of in itself. Yay for some badass time efficiency. I was also playing around with a new editing style, and the shots turned out to be some of my favourites from our time working together. At this point, I decided I wanted to go back and look at some of our earlier work to torture myself a little and realised that it was exactly a year earlier (to the day) we had done an outfit shoot in the exact same location. For the first time I had as direct a comparision between my work a year earlier vs. today as I could ever get, and man was it fascinating. 


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Don't get me wrong, i've never been terrible with a camera, one thing i've naturally always been okay at is composition. But the shots from 2016 were not great. Though I loved them at the time because they were a huge improvement upon what I had been doing even earlier that year, looking back at them now things have changed a lot. 


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It's so easy to feel like you're not moving or know you've improved a bit but feel like it's not that much, and it's not until you really step back and look at what you were doing even just a year earlier that you can truly see the changes. The same can be said for anything in your life, and it's something I'm learning to appreciate and embrace.


But looking back at this I actually felt proud of myself, even though I also knew there was more improvement to be had. I'm never good at picking something up and continuing if I'm bad at it, and getting to this point was actually something I'm pretty happy with. Seeing the development over the past year, and knowing I have a lot more time to devote to learning and shooting this year, I'm excited to see where I am at the same time in 2018. Expect another of these posts in December.


So I don't really know what the true message of this is other than to go and look at where you were a year ago and fully appreciate the changes, be they as a creative, an entrepreneur, or just a badass killing life in general. Admire yourself for what you've done, and try not to be so hard on yourself day to day in the present, though I'm going to have to force myself to practice what I preach on that one.