Living Life At 1.2


By Abbey Kyhl Founder & Chief Strategiest

I’m just here to take care of the people God has assigned to me. Blessed with what I need. Working hard for what I want.

For all you photographers out there…you are probably fully aware of what 1.2 means. But for the rest of the creative world, here is a quick explanation:

Aperture is one of the most important parts of photography. Without a doubt, it is the most talked about subject, because aperture determines the depth of field. Basically the difference between a beautifully blurred background, or an image where everything is completely in focus. 

It is easier to understand the concept of aperture, and will apply more to today’s topic, if you just think about aperture in relativity to our eyes. Every camera today is designed like human eyes. The cornea in our eyes is like the front element of a lens – it gathers all external light, then bends it and passes it to the iris. Depending on the amount of light, the iris can either expand or shrink. The pupil is essentially what we refer to as aperture in photography. 

One important thing to remember here is the size of the aperture has a direct impact on the depth of field, which is the area of the image that appears sharp. A large f-stop (aperture) such as f/32, will bring all foreground and background objects in focus, while a small f-stop (aperture) such as f/1.2 will isolate the foreground from the background by making the foreground objects sharp and the background blurry. 

A lens that has an aperture of f/1.2 or f/1.4 as the maximum aperture is considered to be a fast lens, because it can pass through more light. 

So you might be wondering how in the world does all this apply to life, so let’s get to it. I want you to ask yourself a few questions…

  • Do you ever spend more time worrying about what is going on around you, than what you are doing yourself?
  • Have you ever spent hours in your day looking over other peoples work, websites, social media sites, and not actually doing work yourself?
  • Do you find yourself constantly evaluating and focusing on others and their work and how they are “doing it better” than you?
  • Do you see something that someone else has done, and immediately think that you need to do that too in order to be successful? Like promotions, giveaways, or products?
  • Have you ever completely changed your course in business, because of something that someone else was doing?
  • Have you ever forced yourself to be associated with people or part of groups that really didn’t benefit you in any way, you just didn’t want to be left out?
  • Do you ever think that someone is more successful than you, just because they have more followers or fans that you?
  • Do you ever convince yourself that the only way to be successful is by being published or recognized in the media?

I am going to wager, that most of us are nodding our heads “yes” to at least one of these questions.

The reality of life is that we have all done it. I know I have, more than once. There have been days when I have spent hours pouring over my “competition”. Looking at their poses, their locations, their lighting, their websites, their social media and convincing myself that they were better than me. I have been guilty of seeing a fellow photographer published in a magazine somewhere and instantly dropping everything I was doing to submit to that same magazine just to keep up. I’ve worried about how others social media feeds were growing in comparison to mine. I’ve hosted giveaways that were not in line with my marketing plan, but really were just in response to someone else’s giveaway. I’ve spent entire days focusing on things that were outside my control, outside my business, and outside of what matters to me. Truly, I have done it all. I have let my view include everything and everyone outside of myself, and let me tell you where it got me.

…it got me nowhere.

Then one day, it kind of hit me. Why was I wasting so much time worrying about everyone else? Knowing everything that was going on in someone else’s business, wasn’t helping me build my own. I had my own work to do. Work that wasn’t getting done. I also had a long list of ways that I wanted to grow my business, take better care of my clients, and move forward in my life. And wasting my time like that only left me discouraged, frustrated, and unproductive. Something had to change…I had to get my line of sight in tact and focus on what I could control and what mattered.

Enter in “Living Life at 1.2″…

As a photographer, I love 1.2. All my favorite lenses have the ability to shoot at 1.2 and I use it as much as possible. 1.2 creates the most beautiful images. 1.2 shows what is truly important and shows you exactly what to focus on. There is no question with 1.2 what you are supposed to be looking at. So in using this same concept for my day-to-day life, it gave me the power to control my view and the ability to make things beautiful and important in reality. So I started really focusing on what was important to me…

  • Being a good mom
  • Taking great care of my brides during their wedding, and maintaining that friendship after they were married.
  • Maintaining the work schedule that I have set for myself.
  • Reaching my Seven Summers goal.

Then I forced myself to to stop worrying about everything else. I changed my focus to only concentrate on those four things. If it didn’t benefit and help make better one of those areas it had to be let go, because those four things are what really matter to me.  Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy, and there were still days when I wanted so badly to swim around in the pool of comparison and competition, but I just had to constantly remind myself, I don’t have time for it. My kids need me, my brides need me, I don’t have hours in the day to waste, and my business goals are pretty lofty.

There were things I had to let go of…like the fact that I haven’t had any of my weddings published in over a year, because I don’t have time to submit them. But with my business, that became something that wasn’t vital because I focus on taking such good care of my brides, that I am able to completely fill my schedule solely by referrals. Or that I will never be a destination wedding photographer, because being on the road and traveling keeps me away from my family too much and I am not willing to do that. But again, it didn’t matter, because there are oodles of brides right here in my local area who want to book me and that way I can still be the mom I want to be. Or that I miss out on networking functions with other industry vendors all the time because they are on the weekends (when I don’t work) or conflict with my kids sporting events. But again, not attending those events has not had any kind of effect on my business, except for maybe the fact that I miss seeing industry friends that I don’t work with all the time. Even with this community, realizing that we won’t be able to be everything to everyone, which in all reality is a great thing, because it helps us focus in on the people who we can really help build their businesses and live a more meaningful life.

The bottom line became though, to focus on the things that mattered, and blur our the background. Blur out the things that weren’t pushing me forward and getting me to the goals I wanted to reach. Blur out the things that were making me frustrated and overwhelmed and left me feeling defeated. Blur out the things that were holding me back. Blur out the people who made me feel bad about myself. Blur out anything else that wasn’t positively contributing to my success at home, in life, and in business.

Living a life at 1.2 has completely changed my perspective. I’ve been able to stop worrying about all those things that used to consume so much of my time and leaving me feeling like I wasn’t good enough all the time. I am able to create more meaningful relationships with the people who bring so much to my life. I am able to more quickly accomplish my goals and dream even bigger dreams.  Living a life at 1.2 is all about changing perspective…my scene never changed, all those things are still there, its just a matter of me changing the way I saw things and what I allowed myself to focus on. Just the same way I could change my lenses to give me the photo that I wanted, I could change my vision and viewpoint to give me the life I wanted.

“Success at anything will always come down to this: Focus and Effort. And you control both!” – Dwayne “the rock” Johnson

I think the question people always have is, “How did you do it exactly? What were the steps you took?” So in creating my Living Life at 1.2 idea, here are things I did and made work for me to begin to focus more on myself and less on the things that didn’t matter.

1. Figured out my goals and what was important to me.

Not having a clear definition of what is important to you, is exactly what makes it easy for you to be distracted. There are so many things out there that catch our eye and seem shiny and important, but they are just short roads to nowhere. We have to know what our direction, our plan, and our future is. We should have goals for not only our business, but also for our life and family. This helps set a framework for what we are working towards. It also helps us steer clear of distractions and detours.

2. Posted those goals somewhere that I could see them often.

Where do you spend the majority of your time? Right in front of a computer? In a car? We all have places that we spend good amounts of time. So post those goals there, so they are in your face constantly. For me, in front of the computer was a great place, because this was also the place that I most frequently lost my way. Getting bogged down from what was going on online, I needed that constant in my face reminder of what I was working towards.

3. Created a mantra for the year

This was one of the best things I ever did. Having my own yearly mantra has helped me stay focused and keep moving towards the task at hand. My mantra for this year is as follows, “I want to be an amazing, wonderful, give my kids the world kind of mom…who just happens to have an amazing, wonderful, change the world kind of business.”  By having this reminder of what I want to do in my face, and have it be something that is so unique to me, has kept focused on what I am working towards!

4. Cleaned up my social media feeds

This is probably the biggest and most important one. One of the biggest things that wears us down, frustrates us, and makes us feel defeated is what we see around us. And a lot of that happens from what we see online. So its time to do some clean up. I use the following questions to determine if things stay or go in my social media world:

  • Does this inspire me? Motivate me? And make me excited?
  • Is this helping me learn to grow and build my business?
  • Is this person someone I genuinely care about?

If the answer isn’t yes, then they are gone! There was one point in my business when I un-friended and un-followed over 700 people, and I have continued to do this on a regular basis and in all that time I have only had TWO people re-friend me. ONLY TWO! Cleaning up our social media feeds can be scary, but it shouldn’t be. Its invigorating and refreshing, and something amazing will happen to your feed…all of a sudden you will start seeing people and things that you WANT to see again! I promise, it will be one of the best things you have ever done!

5. Limited My Online Time

If we really want to build our businesses and better our lives, we need time to do it. So that time has to come from somewhere, and stealing from our online time is a great place to start. If you really want to get a perspective for how much time you spend online, you should sign up for Rescue Time. One of my recent business coaching students told me that this was a “complete game changer and total eye opener” for her. To see how much time she was spending online completely shocked her!  A few ways to set up an online management system include:

  • Using the internet as a reward. Get your work done and you get a 15 minute internet break.
  • Only allow yourself to look online at certain times a day. Another of my workshop students only looks at social media first thing in the morning, and right before she goes to bed. Sort of an easy wake up and a nightly wind down.
  • Take off social media apps from your phone and only view them when you are in the office working. This is what I do with Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. I would do it with Instagram if I could.

6. Set up a designated work schedule and work place.

Of course as creative business owners, we can’t always abide by the regular 9-5 work schedule. But we need to have some sort of work schedule that we stick to 90% of the time. For example during summer break, I work from 5am-9am, then again during nap time which is generally 1pm-3pm, then I will work a few hours in the evening if I am shooting or if I don’t have a commitment with my kids. During the school year, this schedule will change, but it will still be a set schedule that I stick to. Because I don’t let myself work all day long, I have to make the time I am working count and get as much done as I can, so I don’t have time for distractions, which is a great way to keep me on task.

I think it is absolutely vital that you have a work place. Somewhere outside of your common living areas, if you are working at home. It has to be somewhere that you can walk away from each day. That way you don’t have your laptop or phone in front of your face all the time. Having a work place makes it so that when you are in that spot you can put your work hat on, and when you are not there, you can live your life and be present for the people in it.

7. Don’t say “yes” out of guilt or fear.

This was something I struggled with a lot when I was early on in my career. I worried that I would miss out on a life-altering opportunity or that someone wouldn’t like me if I said no. So I said yes all the time! Which left me feeling resentful and burnt out. Before you say yes to collaborations, networking groups, even facebook groups make sure that they are a good fit for you. Something that you can contribute to in a meaningful way and be an active part of, but also something that will be beneficial to you and worth your time! It’s okay to say no, I promise, I do it all the time. This year, I have not done one styled shoot, even though I have had many people ask me, and I still have booked all the clients I want to book.

8. If you don’t love it and aren’t having fun, its time to re-evaluate.

You should love your business, you really should. So if part of why you are focusing so much on everyone else and the outside distractions is because you aren’t happy with your business, then it’s time to do something about it!

9. Find some industry friends who you can support and will return the favor

One of the best ways I have found to stop viewing people as competition is to make friends with them. As much as we may be in the same industry, the longer I am in business, the more I realize there really aren’t very many people who I feel like I am in competition with. Their ideal client is not my ideal client, and what I provide isn’t what they provide. So by friending them, we can only all benefit. We can collaborate, help each other, cheer each other on, and give each other the advice we are all looking for that no one except those in our industry can provide. Navigating a creative business can be a tricky thing, so we need to help each other! Find your people, the one’s you connect with, and help each other make it happen.

10. Be a force for good.

Chances are that lots of people feel the same things you have felt. Share your story. Find an inspiring quote…share it!! Had a bad experience, but learn a valuable lesson…share it! We all need things to look up to, be motivated and inspired by, so start putting your positive and good out there to help build others up. The more you focus on finding the positive in life, in business, and everywhere around you, the less you will find that all those things that we have been discussing will affect you.

I sure hope that helps…and one last piece of advice I want you to remember. Everyone, and I mean absolutely everyone, has the ability to be successful. It takes work, and time, but we can all do it. We just need to know what our definition of success is, and start working our tails off to achieve it! YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!

aperture description and information adapted from here.