The Black Sheep

I have always felt vulnerable to explain the details of how I became involved with photography. I know that that might seem silly (ultimately it doesn't matter how I got here as long as I did), but it's hard not to feel vulnerable when talking about something so personal and vital to my life, and scary to worry about being judged by others for how I got to where I am.

I sometimes wonder how many beautiful black sweaters have been knit from my wool.
— D. M. Timney

This semester I have been met with multiple situations that warranted that fear of judgement and scrutiny from others. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen on my story that on the first day of class this year, before even meeting half of the students (and teachers) in the class, I had to give a 15 minute artist talk about my art and what I'm interested in now. In a school that values fine art above all else, and as someone who has strayed a bit from wanting to pursue the white-cube-gallery lifestyle after school, this was an incredibly intimidating juncture. What if they don't like me? Or think that what I'm doing is not worth my time? 

I have always been the black sheep, growing in a town that prided itself on fitting in with the status quo while I walked around in old fashioned shoes and took self portraits. So here I was the odd one out again, thinking about pursuing a business that empowers the everyday woman through photography, where everyone else is talking about how to submit their work to gallerists. It was so hard to not feel like the odd one out, and start overanalyzing and second guessing  life decisions when you seem to be the only one out of 12 people in your class that are doing what you're doing. This was the first time that I had openly stated and given a presentation on what I wanted to pursue in my creative career, and it was widely different from the other students. 

That first day was the most difficult. After my lecture I had faced my fear of the criticism of my peers for my choices, and I think that that experience and having to advocate for what I'm doing with my career made me more sure and more comfortable with where I am and where I want to go. Since then, I've given two more presentations, the most recent being this week, and with each new time that I'm in a space where I need to talk about my career it gets easier. I can calmly talk about my business, answer my classmates questions, and feel secure in pursuing a career that focuses less on my personal fine art practice and more on what I can do to serve and empower others.

I think that I will always have self doubt, as anyone my age, or anyone following an entrepeanurual path might, but practicing facing my fears and opening myself up to criticism has absolutely helped me to fear it less with each confrontation. If you're finding yourself in a situation where you're nervous about what others will think of you, I encourage you to try it out. Practice what you'll say in front of the mirror. Have a trusted friend listen to you. I promise that the more you try it, the easier that it will become.

Happy (Weird) Wednesday! ;)

Katharine Hannah

Katharine’s work has graced the walls of institutions such as The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Harold Washington Library of Chicago, and local galleries such as Dreambox Gallery, Siragus Gallery and Blick Art Materials. She has also been featured on websites such as the Huffington Post, Phlearn, Fstoppers, Tigress Magazine for Girls, Bitchtopia, and Golden Boy Press.

In addition to photography, Katharine has been a mentor and educator in the arts since 2013. She has worked with students in various organizations and projects over the last two years, including Hive Chicago’s PROjectUS initiative and Digital Youth Network’s Digital Diva’s and Chicago City of Learning programs.