Above: Image by Gina Milicia
I’ve spent most of my life believing I was an extrovert. As a child, I was the class clown, always the first to volunteer to read out loud in class. I love people and will happily talk anyone’s ear off at a party. Classic extrovert right? Ahhh nooo, the truth is I’ve got this definition totally wrong my whole life.
I’m an introvert.
I always believed the definition of an introvert was someone who was painfully shy, socially awkward and hated to leave the house, and while this may be true for some, there are many, many introverts who, just like me, have the following preferences:
1. They prefer to work in solitude
I spent the first 15 years of my career working in a shared office in a busy studio. I was very easily distracted by other people and found I got the bulk of my work done early in the morning and late at night when nobody was around.
Introverts are more productive working on their own, in solitude.
If you can’t avoid working with other people, try getting in a couple of hours before everyone else or working at night after everyone has left the office or when the family has gone to bed.
2. Introverts thrive in one-on-one situations
When I was starting out as a photographer, I always thought that I wanted to shoot fashion and event photography. I never understood why I always felt completely drained after each shoot and so anxious leading up to these shoots.
Introverts thrive in one-on-one or small gatherings. Large social situations can be draining for introverts because they are more sensitive to the energy. An introvert’s and extrovert’s brain are wired differently. Check out this article by David Wolfe.
As soon as I realised this pattern, I started to focus more and more on the one-on-one shoots that I loved and limited the big event shoots with hundreds of people that were emotionally and physically draining for me.
3. Introverts recharge their energy by being alone
I’ve always known that I feel better after a long walk or work out, but always thought it was the physical exercise that recharged me. The reality is, the reason I’ve always loved exercising is that I get to have time out on my own to recharge.
Now I schedule this into every day with a minimum of 30 mins in the morning and minimum of 30 mins each night.
This simple, non-negotiable activity each day has changed my life. I always know when I haven’t had enough time on my own because I start to get tired and cranky.
Sometimes when I feel overworked, I schedule a complete day of solitude, and this works wonders.
4. Introverts may find self-promotion or marketing difficult
I think many artists struggle with self-promotion, but when I started to reframe my reasons for sharing my work, this became much easier.
If you are an artist creating beautiful work and you don’t share it with the world, you deny many people the opportunity to experience something beautiful. Share your work with the world as a community service rather than a marketing exercise. Take the focus off you, the artist, by sharing more about the subject you photographed.
Discovering I am an introvert and learning how that influences the way I relate to people and work as an artist is a game changer. I now know how to manage my time and energy and enjoy all the activities I do.
Taking the time to recharge my batteries is as important to preparing for a successful shoot as charging my camera batteries. The more I focus on protecting my energy, recharging and working in situations that suit my introverted tendencies, the more creative and easier my life becomes and the creativity equals happiness in my world.
Are you introverted, extroverted, or a bit of both? How do you recharge your batteries? Please share your stories. I would love to hear from you.