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Breaking Through Creative Barriers

Lesson 6 of 6

Dive Deep into the Heart of You and Clients

Me Ra Koh

Breaking Through Creative Barriers

Me Ra Koh

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Lesson Info

6. Dive Deep into the Heart of You and Clients


  Class Trailer
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1 Introduction Duration:07:12
2 Breaking Barriers Duration:1:13:17
3 10 Stages of Growth Duration:52:00
4 Photo Shoot Duration:57:54
5 Tools for Break Through Duration:40:37

Lesson Info

Dive Deep into the Heart of You and Clients

I am really taken to heart my own healing process in my own journey, I'm with my business, and that it cannot be like a compartmentalized thing like my business's success, especially being a creative working artists and the business being built around that is really tied so tightly to my own self discovery as as a person. And so counseling has been a very big deal. In fact, brian, I told brian when we first started dating that I would not marry him unless he went to a professional counselor and not like this pastor who does it on the side for people but like a certified count flor and he jokes now and says, I'm not staying married to you unless we keep going like it out there. But there those those sixteen years of us and our journey with our marriage counselor or family counselor passed clean and blaze have gone to him, and this self discovery has directly impacted my sense of confidence in my sense of mission and value and purpose in what I'm doing with my clients. So to me, I look a...

t it this is this is an artichoke in my garden, and I took this with a macro lens, one of the sony, the sunny macro lens, and I just I fell in love with it because there's all these layers right that in fold to the heart of the artichoke and for me, I feel like when I'm working with people, I'm in his in this dance with them of moving past the layers, and the first layer is then feeling completely uncomfortable in front of the camera. And so one of the things I need to d'oh it's spent time getting in front of the camera, so I know their pain right away, and I'm really in touch with that, and I can help guide them through that. But then what's the next layer and what's the next layer, and as I have grown in my own, like self awareness, I just have so much more to give to my client, it's. And so photography is such a psychological business because we're asking people to get in front of a camera and look natural and feel beautiful. Give me a break who feels beautiful when it cameras pointed at him, and so, I mean, I honestly think every photographer would benefit from a good six months to a year can honestly like we what are you completely undone by? Because when you get in touch with that panic inside of you, of that police, you don't ever want to be exposed that's exactly how your clients feel when you put the camera in front of their face. S and so just like being in touch with that and I'm ok, so here's here's this photo of me and I like when I was teaching high school, I had like the eighties hair kids make fun of it all the time, but this was I taught for a while english at like, a kind of like a last stop high school where the kids were all ankle bracelet monitored, there were no phones home, so all my communication was with their probation officers. They said the f word fifty million times and one day I had dreams and me swearing in my sleep, they threw over the tables when they got mad about the assignment, sometimes chairs, and then this big shirt. What we've done is they've all written something that they're proud of, and we've putting it together in a book, and we went to barnes and noble with it, and I call the press and seattle and asked him to meet us there, and they got to present their work to people on it, and it was beautiful, and I'm awesome. And so I was at this stage, this is almost fifteen years ago, I was hammering out how to empower people, how to pull things I see and feel that are beautiful and people and how to help them get to a place a confidence to be able to give that to the world and share it and not be ashamed of it and not be afraid of it but like this was such a small like became this was just a high school class of kids that said f you every time they walked into my class right this is last year at a speaking engagement I did for a women's conference in texas and there's like fifteen hundred two thousand women in the audience and and I and I like fifteen years later I'm in a place where I'm just so ready for this I know exactly why what I'm about and what I want to see what I wanted to leave with but that didn't happen overnight it's that artichoke unfolding an unfolding and folding and getting to like the heart which took four and a half years of the special is um what do I want to make my life about why am I here in the first place is my life a mistake that was something I wondered for years growing up with a lot of abuse and that is my life a mistake no well if it's not then what's it going to be about and now putting my flag and that and declaring it and being on lee about that your pain is a strength your pain is the strength and that is just that that is just so vital to the creative process. I love that beethoven wrote his like most famous symphony when he was like, completely death. You think about that, like his pain took him to a place he couldn't even hear the instruments anymore, but he heard the rhythm pulsating through the floorboards, and he created his greatest masterpiece and his darkest hour of eight. Milton, who wrote paradies loss, was completely blind by the time he wrote a visionary piece of literature that would live on for, like, ever in our literary world. I love that your pain is a strength you're being is not something to be ashamed of. Your pain is not something to tuck away to put under the car bit toe hope that, like maybe that won't come out maybe no, they won't see it. Your pain is what makes us all connected because we all have pain, right? We all have pain and I'm it's interesting how I've encountered this in shoots, like when I'm I showed up once for a family shoot and the mom, I was really different with her daughter. She was really tough on her daughter and not on the two boys and I. Because I'm so aware of my own being, it was so in front of me, the monsignor no and she's trying to make it look all gray on the outside. But you can feel it inside of you. Some things like off right now, and so the two boys could do nothing wrong. But the daughter was just always feeling. And so at one point I said, well, why don't you know? She and I just go spend time in her room. And so she and I went up there and we did this photo shoot together. And I'm and I knew in that moment with that little girl that I was not here to take big shirts. I was here to, like, usher healing and usher love that was unconditional and just usher like a sense of safety because even though the mom has all of that to give to her kids for right now, for whatever reason, she doesn't have it for a daughter and I just will never forget that that part of that shoot and when I packed up all my stuff and I got ready to leave the house the mom came up to me outside with the kids you know inside doing their own thing and she said I'm so sorry you know my mom just passed away and I got all this stuff going on I didn't want to lose our photo shoot I didn't want to reschedule I'm sure it's kind of come out and weird ways and all was said and I realized why the pain was so intense with her and her daughter because she was processing the loss of her own mom and so on and I told her you know no it's totally it is what it is it's life you know and I had to tell you I drove two blocks and I pulled over and I just sat and cried because I am I knew that it's not about the photos it's about being able to give people healing because they expect to be broken from what you take a right that they expected like have their worst fear is convert and you telling them that this is beautiful you look beautiful your hair is lovely your smile is so dear oh my gosh your connection is so powerful every single thing that you're saying is bringing healing to their lives and I feel like without knowing your own pain you can't you can't go there is well with people I remember when you know, I told you about this book I wrote, beauty restored and how it's, based on my own story of being date raped in college and putting my shatter life back together after that, I I remember thinking, gosh, like, now that I'm doing wedding photography, should I not say anything about look who wants to think about date rape when they're getting married, right? I mean, so it's, not it's, an obvious question, but like that pain is me it's part of me overcoming that pain is part of me, and it was part of my bio on my web site. We're shooting high and million dollar weddings, every bride saw that that's where I started, and you know what? It drew a bride to me that valued healing and emotional connection. I would say eight out of ten of our brides had some kind of trauma that they had gone through in their life, and their wedding day felt so vulnerable to them that they felt safe with me being there photographer and that's. Really, ultimately, at the end of the day, why I was fine out to do their wedding and not someone else, so your pain, you're you're a pain is your strange we had a woman in our workshop ones she had ovarian cancer and so she was never able to have children I never I will never forget her saying that one boy in the workshop well maybe I shouldn't like take pictures of kids because I'm one of the only women here that's not a mime I don't have kids of my own I may never have kids you know? So maybe I it I should think about shooting something different oh my gosh I heard that I looked like your dialed into kids in a way mom never will be you value kids in a way I will never know you know the preciousness of life and the joy of a child in a way that I will never experience because I'm not experienced your same pain your pain is what makes you so beautiful and to use that as her strength so I just want to pause there because I need a kleenex and is there any questions like about what we've done? Why no we're almost getting to the end and self thank you. Well, first of all I just want to read you a comment from new york city girl says this is unlike any other credible I've class I've ever seen it's extremely refreshing and inspiring and khun definitely help one become a better photographer thank you thank you let's turn it over to our studio audience safety wise who are here live have any questions for mira we're all just kind of being a marine it's gonna say I think your minds are blown yeah I just want to say thank you thank you for your energy you know it's been a really a blessing for me to be the only mail here is like with all these wonderful females on with your teaching and you giving with your heart and your soul and having experience all that you've gone through and and in the healing process and then having us be able to interchange our energies as well I will not masculine energy when normally you're really reaching out to a lot of women is like to help empower them and even though I spend my career in my life empowering people is well I just want to say to you that I am so grateful and so honored this like have shared this time with you is like I think that you are such a blessing to humanity um and I just want to thank you for you being you thank you what a beautiful beautiful comment thank you so much and I also want to follow up yeah um polly just a lovely a compliment as well stay it was life changing for me I cried and I laugh but most of all I've learned so much and confirmed that I'm on the right path thank you so much pretty amazing. So do you have a couple of final questions for you if that's all right? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So one you talked earlier about pushing pushing yourself out of your comfort zone yes. And you showed us the toddler you know, on the trade show floor yeah and mourning if you could if you could talk about maybe more ways that because that one I see questions about a lot here and here and alive is what are some other ways that we can think about pushing ourselves? Yeah, creatively putting are getting ourselves outside of our comfort zone and maybe even if their folks in here that have ideas or questions yeah, you have something on your mind, don't you, julie you're so good at that stuff. For several years I had always been interested in people that did voice overs and hearing the voice on greece is on commercials and I had kind of seen it in the continuing education flyer that came in the mail box that I usually just recycled and for our first I said I told my husband and his friend that I was going to buy them tickets so they would go and I never did and then last year I've sought again and I thought to, you know, registered my husband I for this voice over class and I ended up taking six months of lessons and loved it yeah, I loved it and it was and I've just never done anything like that and I'm not going to scuba dive or rock climb yeah do anything like that but there's something different that you never maybe thought about but you've never done before yeah yeah haley suggested I love that that's a good I know it's so cool I've loved like watching you do that because it's like let you up in a whole nother way yeah yeah said you know julie like just stand out for a second because julie's really like no I mean really ok so julie as these photo p ants on that julie's came to me one day what was it like two or three years ago and she said I have this idea I feel like women never have pants that like come high enough so when we squat when we're doing shoots you can like see things you shouldn't be seen right she's like I want to make these panties felt these pants for women that photographers and she's like but I don't know how to sew like you should do it but I find someone who does know out so you know and now you can go to her website photo piatt stock on but this girl could do a whole three day creative live on just breaking through barriers because you come through so many and doing something you know nothing about right yeah yeah I've loved to say that I love breaking through barriers, but then I think about those moments where I feel you know the pain of just thinking that it's insurmountable but I'm just this is it I've gone as far as I can go and so but I do love a challenge and I do love dance and good when you get on the other side barrier yeah, what did that dance classes that's something you could do to practice giving uncomfortable I always like wanna weed with brian and he's like you're not supposed sleep you're supposed let me lean in you know I mean but just like or taking a music lesson or something amy anything that you can do as an exercise walking up to strangers with your camera and saying, can I take a portrait of you and dealing with their response and really like volunteer lee allowing yourself to be rejected because you would like for that rejection to not be so like that really hurt you would really like to numb yourself to rejection, you know? And so I just, you know, all kinds of here's what I'll say, this is what you know, that guy I told you about that charge is ten thousand dollars an hour one of ok, I'm going to tell you one of the best things he ever said he ever asked me he said think of the three times in your life when you've shown up one hundred and ten percent you have just, like shown up and it can't be when you had your kids and it can't be when you got married it has to be like something you did that you experienced where you were like fully there and it takes the world like to think about, you know, you got to really do some like reflection of, like, let's a time when I felt like I was really there and then he said, you know, after you write those down, then think about the three things that you are most like that have been the most pain in your life, okay? So he literally was like a cz much as you don't want to think about it, what are the three most painful moments in your life and write those down? And what he said is that usually that experience of existing in that place that we're one hundred ten percent is right on the other side of that pain that we will literally like go away from and avoid at all costs but if we knew what that main was and what was on the other side, if we pushed through it, we would probably like get in touch and be able to embrace that theme like one hundred ten percent feeling when I'm most showed up it does that make sense it's a really like reflective exercise but when you think about years three moments in life that were most painful for you I guarantee that you will start to have ideas of what you could do to encounter that pain and to voluntarily like make yourself uncomfortable maybe going to counseling something uncomfortable you know I don't know there's all kinds of things like you know that are just so like healthy and helpful but are also seasonal doesn't mean you have to do it forever but just for right now like what would shake shake up your like inside a little bit in a good way yeah okay um lacresha what has been one of your biggest business challenges in the past year? What a question and I think just as we're talking about, you know, breaking through barriers and challenges like what was potentially what was that biggest challenge for you? But then also how did you go about breaking through it? I it doesn't have to be the biggest yeah, no wanted that I'm one of the biggest challenges that I have faced has been being misunderstood and I think that I was avoiding tv because the more you're on tv and the more exposure you get, the more criticism well just invited we come and criticism and feeling misunderstood are one of my greatest pain things that I will avoid like have avoided at all costs and I know we we have to wrap up soon. I feel like this is really important to share this story I can just feel it inside. I remember doing ah nate show and nate berkus episode that's when he still had his daily show on nbc and he's for those of you who don't know he was oprah's is opens like favorite into your designer and we I had come on several times as his photo expert and the audience started writing in and asking to know more about who I wass instead of just doing ah photo shoot, you know, superfast like in the three minute segment or whatever. So so we did this segment where I went on and I didn't come on with my camera and it was just he and I talking and he asked me like, how did you get started in the talker? Senior and one of the ways I got started was I set up a booth at my local farmer's market and my mom sold her salsa and I had my pictures on like display, and that was one of the way that got started in this farmers market and and he loved it because he's never gone to into your design school too, and I've never gone to photography school, so we had this great connection well within, like a few hours on his facebook page it blew up, and there were just like over three hundred comments from pro photographers who thought I was like, single handedly ruining the industry and teaching moms how to take pictures of your kids and I I felt so frozen buy it, I read a view, and then I couldn't read anymore, and I felt so misunderstood, and, uh, I felt like all that pain I try to avoid was, like, up in front of my face, right? And I remember just crying and that night, and I remember blaze saying, mom, they don't know you, though, if they knew you, like I knew you, they would know, you know, they wouldn't say any of that stuff, but it wasn't so much what they were saying, but me, knowing that if we are going to continue to pursue being this figure for mon, is that I've gotta figure out how to deal with criticism, the one thing I want to avoid at all costs and and the reason for that is this because I grew up with a dad who was very critical of me, and I'm and I'll talk about this more in our three day work shot, but I'm but he often beat me down with what he said in the words that he said to me and he's given me permission to talk about that with people because he has changed so much and we have such a amazing relationship now together, but this all happened on facebook and I didn't know what to do with it, and I remember I went out to lunch with my dad like the next day, and I told my dad said, so how's it going, you know, with everything, and I told him about this, how this had just happened and how I didn't even know if I should respond or I felt so misunderstood and I'm and he wanted me, and he said me crap, and I will never forget this he said, I'm I spent your whole childhood trying to beat you down, and I regret every day of it because I spent your whole life trying to tell you that you meant nothing and that you were a mistake and that you should have never been here and he's that and I I would take it all back if I could in a second in a heartbeat, but what I can give you right now is that you're still going. Your dad couldn't even stop you, you're still going, you're still wanting tio encourage people in power people, and so if your own dad could have shut you down, how could anybody else shot union and for me, that moment with my dad it was worth all the comments that anybody posted on facebook and it brought me to this place of just like this is really at the end of the day, what it's about this is not I just had this huge awareness that this, like dream I have to have a successful business to be successful videographer all these things that's all great, but really the truth of what is going on is I'm being inspired because I want to achieve these things to face things that I would never volunteer. Lee fit he's and and as I face him, I'm finally finding freedom from those things, and so I'm so that would probably be one of the biggest things I hit last here in the last couple years. I want to finish up with with two more tools for breaking down created barriers and the second to last one is choose the power of choice is so underestimated, and so many of us are afraid to choose that we just like opt out to choose nothing, you know, and I really like worked this out and photography because this picture is so like this was taken a number of years ago, this was in past clean stage, where she refused to brush her hair look at this child hair, you would never know this, but she refused to brush her hair and I've refused to argue with her about it, and I'll never forget the first day she actually calmed her hair's a friend came over and didn't recognize her, and so this is in that stage when her hair was entangled all the time and I remember they were like running in circles in the backyard, her and her little friend with these butterfly weed zahn and they were in shadow they were in like they were in shadow, you're in luck and I could go crazy trying to continue to adjust my camera settings or I could just choose where I was going to set my settings to and wait for them to circle back around and this this idea of choosing what we want it so I'm it's so powerful and so scary at the same time because if I choose toe on lee, take the shots and when she runs into the sun, that gets what that means. I am miss all the shots of her not in the sun, but to get great shots we have to miss shots that's always like how it is and photography we can't get every great shot, and so even though you choose to specialize in something even though you choose tio sacrifice for this being this passion that you're going to go after, you also are conscious of everything you're giving up and making that choice and yet choosing is like so important to feel like you're out of your propelled at it being stuck until you choose your just stuck right? And you're just kind of existing and it's not it's, not fun, it doesn't feel life give me so that's that's a big tool that I feel like gets underestimated a lot on the last one is listen this eye this is probably like my most important tool to breaking through my creative barriers is just taking time to be quiet until listen, I go every morning I go on a morning walk by myself with my dog believe took that picture of me what's that we're on a walk together is like place I've always wanted a fixture of me on this road idea of my morning walk you know, I'm but that morning walk is a ritual for me teo sink into the rhythm of my footsteps, the birds singing I don't look at my phone in the morning until I'm back from that walk any text or email can wait thirty to forty five minutes nothing's going like fall apart and really like because the moment I look at all that stuff gets what I'm thinking in about the whole time on my walk right? And so just taking that time to listen, I'm in august brian came to me and he said mirror what would you think about trying something new together. What would you think about every morning? We set the timer for three to four minutes and we just spend that time being quiet and listening together and whatever we hear, we write down and I just, you know, any time husband says, would you like to spend time praying with me? A wife is like breaking down into tears, right? And so I said, I would want to do that kind of thing with you that so much has come from that listening time together. We've already filled up a whole book of things that we're hearing sometimes the kids joining us that's how we ended up in egypt, who in their right mind would take their children tio, egypt in the month of their revolution, right? But we listened together as a family two years ago, and we were quiet for four minutes, and when we were done, we all shared what we got it's so insane we all work wrote down the word go blaze at a picture of a globe spinney fast lean out a picture of us looking at a map, brian or I had one of us at a picture of us going actually egypt, one of us had a picture of camels, and so that listening time redirected so much of what our business than would be doing so much of where we would be aiming towards versus like just going through the motions now we were setting forth on this path we had no idea how it would unfold, but we knew our family needed at some point to get to egypt and what medicine each out is so unbelievable we'll talk about it maybe more in our three day one, but just what is so like something I will never forget is when we came home and it was a month after we've been home from egypt and in egypt was very difficult it's a country is going through so much right now and our purpose and going was to bring better press to what all the negative press was that was out there and and then to also film a possible sizzle for a family travel show because that's a dream that percolates and brian and ice hearts and creative spirit so he was we're sitting together as a family a month after we've been home and I look at the kids and I like why do you think we were called to go to egypt like why do you think you were blaze because dad want could have gone by ourselves and I'm you know what he said to me, he said, mama, if I had not known in our listening time that I was supposed to go to, I may have been more afraid during that trip, but I just knew every day I'm supposed to be here, I'm supposed to be here. I heard that when we were quiet several times, and I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be out, and he said, I feel like, uh, the reason god took me in egypt was to show me that there is such great need and pain in this world, but that if I can do a little bit, it'll make a difference. I can't do it all, I can't fix it all, but I conduce what I can dio and that accounts for something it will make a difference and so listening, we did this exercise with our teachers when we did our retreat, brian, I started our whole training together, and we said, we're going to dio with you what we do all to what we do together, we're going to set the timer for four minutes, and I hope it's okay? We're not offending anybody, but I just want to listen together. What is your heart telling you? Because that art what your heart is telling you is the direction we're supposed to go, and it was amazing the consistency of what we heard as a group answers some of them heard that they've been waiting for and wondering about for so long, and so the tool of listening there's. So much noise in our world right now. But to quiet ourselves, everybody has three minutes. I go into a bathroom stall sometimes before speaking, engagement, and set my iphone for three minutes and just stand in that bathroom stall and just quiet myself, to come back in touch with me and who I am and what I'm about and what my purpose is for this earth. In this life, I'm livin

Class Description

Join Sony Artisan of Imagery Me Ra Koh for a photography course on breaking through creative barriers. In this creativeLIVE course, Me Ra outlines her signature "10 Stages of Growth for a Portrait Photographer." This comprehensive guide is designed to highlight the different phases of a photographer's journey andoutline the various challenges each photographer faces during their professional career.

This photography course is all about breaking through the creative "glass ceiling" that photographers face. Ma Ra showcases real-world examples on how to overcome common barriers, and how to leverage them to build strength for yourself and your photography business.

This inspirational workshop was part of creativeLIVE's Shoot What You Love event, a 3-day inspirational event sponsored by SONY featuring fashion photographer Matthew Jordan Smith, family photographer Me Ra Koh, and conservation photographer Cristina Mittermeier.



I have had this course for a while. I held off on viewing it because I thought it would be more of an inspirational type of class. It is but I was pleasantly surprised to see how much practical content was also included. The actual shoots with the three families was really helpful for me, watching her quickly analyze the light and explain how she approaches a shoot. I especially enjoyed Me Ra's interaction with the active to year old. Good class for beginners (maybe not so much for established photographers). Would recommend.


Thank you, Me Ra and CreativeLive for this very inspiring workshop. I have felt being eaten up by my own fear and self-doubt until I watched this workshop... I learned that this feeling of insecurity was a part of the journey and totally ok. Thank you for sharing some useful tools on how to overcome our own fear of realizing our dream! Truely inspiring and eye-opening.