Following Richard's top 10 tips for success...

I am excited to say I'll have the pleasure of meeting Sir Richard tonight as I photograph the screening and panel discussion of his documentary, "Breaking the Taboo" here in San Francisco.  Richard, I hope you enjoy this post, inspired of course by your article in the BBC on March 14th.  Please leave me a comment & let me know what you think!  Cheers & I hope SF is giving you a warm embrace! 

Follow your dreams and just do it!

 

My dream last year was to bring photography to the children of Dumphries, the village that borders Richard's private game reserve, Ulusaba, in South Africa.  Sure, I was afraid... What if I failed, what if I can't raise the money, what if I all of the sudden couldn't take a good photo anymore, what if, what if, what if... I just put one foot in front of the other, made a commitment to myself and to others, and did not let intimidation change my path.  My reward??  THIS!  These amazing kids, memories that will make me smile for a lifetime.  And, what a bonus that I got to help raise money for these incredible people who stole my heart over and over again.  

Shelly with the kids at Dumphries, January 2014.

Shelly with the kids at Dumphries, January 2014.

Make a positive difference and do some good!

 

I searched for a long time within myself to find the path I wanted to take within the photography field.  I tried it all:  Portraits, weddings, photo booth, head shots, travel & lifestyle... until I finally found my purpose.  A business that makes a difference.  Photography that changes the world, even just a little bit, through the connections it brings.  Doing good, sharing souls.   

Connecting with the teens at Mawewe high school.

Connecting with the teens at Mawewe high school.

Believe in your ideas and be the best!

I am trying, Richard, I am trying!!  I DO believe in my ideas, I have so many of them and try to catch up with them on a daily basis.  It's difficult to get past the monkey mind that tells you 'you don't have time', 'someone else will do that, you can't', or 'what makes you think you can do that?'.  But, day by day I get past small obstacles in order to persevere, so I think being the best for me right now equals 'being the best I can be today, right now in this moment'.  

Shelly in Tulum, Mexico for her 40th birthday celebration!

Shelly in Tulum, Mexico for her 40th birthday celebration!

Have fun and look after your team.

Paju and I did a photo shoot together for an audition he was going to.  He called me the day before and asked if I had time, and I was honored to be the one to photograph such a gorgeous man, both inside and out.  To start the shoot, we streamed Beyonce on the JamBox, poured a glass of sav blanc, and then got to it.  Of course, we had to end the shoot hugging an jumping.  This kind of fun is what makes me believe even more that I am on the right path! 

Shelly having fun during a photo shoot with the one and only Paju Munroe.

Shelly having fun during a photo shoot with the one and only Paju Munroe.

Don’t give up.

The way I've gotten to this place now is that I have never given up on trying.  In the words of someone I adore and respect, ehem, "If you don't try, nothing happens."  So, I keep trying, keep getting excited about ideas, and learn from the failures and the trials that have come with them all.  And at the end of the day, nothing is ever a failure, because I took a risk.  That's what life is all about, and the uncomfortableness that comes along with it is truly precious.  

Taking it all in... Sedona AZ

Taking it all in... Sedona AZ

Make lots of lists and keep setting yourself new challenges.

Black Rock City has given me the opportunity to challenge myself in ways I never knew.  It goes deep into your core and brings up all of the things you try to suppress in the default world, then it sits and watches you try to get out of facing them.  If you let it in, beauty and truth arises.  The challenge is in not running away from it, and even more, in welcoming the demons to dinner so that you can have a conversation over a bottle of wine that has almost turned.  The freedom and growth you feel afterwards carries you off the Playa, and gives you strength to keep making those lists that feed your greatest challenges.

View from the temple, BRC 2011

View from the temple, BRC 2011

Spend time with your family and learn to delegate.

I don't get to see my family as much as I'd like, but when I do, I dive in and get dirty.  These little guys can tackle me in the grass, soak me with a hose, and pull my arms off, I don't care, I love it!  My goal is to spend the most quality time with them when we are able to be in the same place, and let them know that they should be very excited when Auntie Shelly comes to town!  My plan for the future involves a lot of travel, so I will have to learn the art of delegation and choosing projects wisely.  I know how fast time flies, but seeing how much others can accomplish with way more on their plates than me is an inspiration that keeps my sights high.  

Shelly and her nephews, getting down 'n dirty!

Shelly and her nephews, getting down 'n dirty!

Try turning off the TV and getting out there and do things!

This one, I have zero problem with.  TV is not my thing, although I do have my secret infatuations with certain actors, and can be captivated by any number of "top tatoo/chef/designer/insert-any-word-here show" if you catch me on the right day.  I don't have many regrets when it comes to the things & places I've gotten out to explore, but when I think of just how many more experiences there are out there left undiscovered by this blonde girl, it kinda makes my head spin - and gets me planning!  Now, if I could only get myself off of this laptop more hours of the day... 

Exploring the streets of Paris, 2013

Exploring the streets of Paris, 2013

When people say bad things about you, just prove them wrong.

Just keep going, let it pass through you, know that you can't please 100% of the people all of the time, and give them your inner "roar!" of awesomeness to show that you are amazing no matter what anyone else has to say otherwise.  This photo was taken on my 40th birthday!  Who says you have to grow old?!?!  

Lucky 13 bar in San Francisco, 2013

Lucky 13 bar in San Francisco, 2013

Do what you love, and have a sofa in the kitchen.

Whether it's a sofa or the ground, cuddle with friends!  My love of creating different photo opportunities has led me to capture some of my favorite moments with those I adore & love.  This project at Burningman was to capture people in cuddle puddles from above.  It was one of my favorite projects, and whenever I feel like connecting with friends, the camera always comes out... whether it be on the couch, in the kitchen, or totally dusty!  

The "above" photo project, Burningman 2011

The "above" photo project, Burningman 2011