compelled | long island photographer | summer lyn photography

i woke up this morning compelled to write this. i like when things like this happen to me, the need to sit and share life and thoughts with you all. its therapeutic in some ways.


i woke up this morning thinking about winning. about competition. why? because my daughters basketball team acquired their eighth straight loss in a row yesterday. a season of no wins. and as i was watching them yesterday, a close game, i started to think about the competition in my life, throughout my life. i thought about these ten year old girls, and what drives them.  the girls had their first lead ever in playing in the third quarter.  I’m that mom on the sidelines freaking out bc i FEEL it. the spirit inside of me playing competitive sports will never go away. i jump up, i jump down. i cheer for the other team when they steel the ball and i see skill in girls at such a young age. i was emotionally involved in this game.  heavily. maybe even more so because stephen coaches the team. I’m invested.  sincerely invested. and the game started trickling away from these girls, and as the buzzer went off with another loss i got tears in my eyes.  and i looked at the girls wondering if they felt what i felt. that natural gut instinct that if you are an athlete you feel it. that close win.  the drive.  the way they ran up and down that court with more heart than i had ever seen and coming away on the losing side. i was crushed.


these girls weren’t.  loss doesn’t affect them. its just another day.


this was amazing to witness. competitiveness and the will to win is on my blood. in my heart. and so that little tear in my eye was bc my heart was in that game with them and i simply felt it.  but to them?  their losses are bringing them that much closer to a win. a victory that they will remember for a long time.  its a win that won’t come easy.  i think about the couple teams they have played against that are powerhouses. the teams that have lost no games.  they don’t know what its like to be defeated. to have to come together every week at practice and work together and mold together.  winning teams don’t come together like losing teams do.  i have been a part of a lot of winning teams in my life, and boy oh boy, when we have our asses handed to us by that lesser qualified team? the look in their faces bc they always lose and they just beat us? those are faces i will never forget. these are the teams that have nothing to lose. they step on that field or court and just do it. and pour their hearts into it.  and hey- if they lose, it is what it is, they come together every week and pick each other up and are just so positive when sometime good happens.  when they score they freak out and cheer each other on.  sweet, sweet victory for the teams that are always losing, and i believe that.  even taking losses these girls are learning, and building character, and learning to just keep going.  they keep getting back up and working harder knowing that one day sweet reward will come.  and i love these girls.  i envy the fact that their losses don’t affect them the way a loss would affect me.  me? i would have been crushed.  and would have gone home and internalized what i did wrong for the team. how can i play better to help us win. i would put the weight of the team on my shoulders and wondered how can i be better the next time so that we don’t lose another game.  the will to win. sometime that cannot be taught and isn’t in everyone.  the will to win that is in your heart and your gut and simply devastated your entire being when you fail.


and on the flip side of that?  when i would win a game i still wasn’t happy.  because maybe we won the war but maybe during the war i lost some battles.  in soccer? maybe the player made a move and got by me.  which would make my blood boil and i would chase them down like no ones business.  or maybe i made a bad pass and it got deflected to the other team.  or in softball, we could have walked away with the win but maybe i went 2 for 4, but i would be so pissed at myself for not going 4 for 4.  or maybe a made an amazing double play but the next ground ball i overthrew first base.  i was never happy. ever.


where am i going with all of this and what the hell does it have to do with photography?


well.  because i get a lot of messages and texts and emails on how did i get good.  or how did i get success.  and i am saying that in the LEAST STUCK UP WAY POSSIBLE.  anyone who knows me knows i am the most humble person ever.  i get incredibly shy and embarrassed when someone comments on my work because quite frankly, i am not successful. and i am not good.




ya. i really believe that.  i haven’t made it.  and i never will.  and this attitude is who i have always been. I’ve never been happy or satisfied with my work.  but every game (or every session) i get out there and pour my heart into it. because i know i can do better than the shoot before. i know i can think of a unique angle and push myself. i look at shoots i did a month ago and i hate them.  and i cannot wait to get out there again and push myself to be better.


i compete with myself. and that is my motivation and that is what drives me and thats what should drive you all.  constantly comparing yourself to others is horrible. and think about that for a minute.  really think about how deep that is.  by losing yourself and comparing yourself to someone else you literally inhibit yourself from developing the best artistic version of YOU.  everyones art is distinct and unique because every ONE is distinct and unique. and you can only develop your best when you look inside yourself.


put it into perspective: say you are comparing yourself to so and so.  and you want to achieve that same creamy bokeh of a little girl in a forest/ that chin in hands pose / that amazing backlight / that family connection.  and maybe after practicing and practicing and practicing, you do it.  yay for you, right? you win, right?




how boring is that?!!!  competition with others makes you ordinary, boring, and limited.  you reached and reached to achieve something and then you stop. you become stagnant. you stopped because you were competing with someone else, you worked hard to do what they do, and poof. now you’re done. you’ve plateaued. and you’re happy bc you achieved what someone else did because that was your goal.  where is the drive inside of you to just be YOU, be a better YOU.


compete with yourself! find yourself, find your voice, and you will be heard.  never try to be better than someone else.  always try to be better than you.  if you are looking outwardly and worried about how many likes a photo got, or how many fans she has, or how many people book her then you just lost.  worrying about what other people accomplish and what other people has will make you 1- incredibly insecure and 2- never happy because you’ll feel as though you can never keep up.  spending hours scrolling through other photographers feeds means thats time you lost is finding you and digging into you and honing in on who YOU are and how you can make YOUR mark.


so get your camera and go win, but don’t win. think of yourself as constantly losing bc then you’ll want to  BEAT YOURSELF every day.  maybe you pose newborns “better than her”.  stop that train of thought! pose newborns better than YOU. push yourself to stop being the same photographer and pose a newborn in a better way than you did at the shoot before. compete against yourself.  because then, and only then, will you constantly grow and evolve as a photographer.


and in life.


be you. be raw. be real. be honest.


comparing and competing against you makes you such an incredible version of you. and whats more appealing than that? nothing. in this world of so many fake people and people that display their lives all over social media in such a fake way its sick, whats more refreshing than being yourself and stepping away from the mold? nothing. the weight is off your shoulders to keep up with everyone else when you start to compete with yourself.





(thats me. raw. no make up. showing my varicose veins on my leg. the stretch marks on the backs of my thighs. wrinkles on my forehead and face. some bags under my eyes and some crows feet on the outside of my eyes. oh well. I’m 37. i am who i am. love it or leave it. )










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