Here’s a great exercise that you can right in your own home…walk around the house with your camera of choice and photograph the little things you love seeing every day. Think about it, frame it in a thoughtful way and be happy that you captured something in your own home that brings a smile to your face. Another step is to print it out and write on the back, or in a scrap book. Maybe you photographed a piece of jewelry you inherited, a souvenir from a great vacation, a gift from someone who has passed, an instrument you’re learning to play, or some flowers that made you happy today. Enjoy the banality of life–it’s all good.
LITTLE DOG’S RHAPSODY IN THE NIGHT
He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I’m awake, or awake enough
he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.
“Tell me you love me,” he says.
“Tell me again.”
Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask.
I get to tell.
This poem is by Mary Oliver, a feminist dog lover poet who wrote a book of poems called “Dog Songs.” It’s a lovely book that is dedicated to woman’s best friend–her baby.
My role as a photographer is to take. I enjoy this but its a guilty pleasure that I often feel bad about doing. It feels selfish to take. I can justify a lot of it by saying, “they agreed to it,” or “if I tell their story, maybe it will help someone else,” or “maybe these photographs will help this person move on or see how beautiful they are or tell their story.” I say a lot of things but I’m often left feeling heavy or guilty or selfish…but fortunately, more than anything, I feel privileged and trusted.
I am working with a beautiful soul who has lived through more pain than any girl ever should and has made it to the other side now. She isn’t far removed from the tough stuff but she’s come a long way and won’t go back. Her scars tell their own story but I wanted to go deeper than the scars on her skin. I wanted to learn about the scars on her heart and in her head. The healing is just as impressive as the stories themselves. She is healing and growing and becoming. It’s amazing to watch and I am grateful for her trust.
For our “before the healing” shot, I asked her to paint a self portrait of the person she felt like when she was in the thick of the pain. We will follow up soon with a joyfilled photo of her in a happier place (where she is today)…but this is her yesterday…before.
Sometimes I look down to look up
when my head feels too heavy to lift
I look down to look up
when I want to find something beautiful in the ugly
I look down to look up
when I’m afraid the sun might sting my eyes
I look up while looking down
when I am hopeful there’s a bright blue sky somewhere…
You can take a photo or you can develop a relationship. If your heart stays open it gets bigger and fuller (kinda like the Grinch). I love portraiture photography because I love faces and stories and connections. If someone trusts you, it’s amazing what you can capture. It feels like a gift every time too. I love the safety of having a lens between us but not taking away from the moment.
This is Emma. She has no idea how beautiful she is…her heart is open, she is kind and funny and generous. We are taking a journey together to capture her own personal before and during …her after has yet to come. She’s lived too many experiences to capture in one image but as you can see here, she trusted me to take the first step with her and so far, she’s timeless.
We spent the weekend at the coast and this truly is my happy place. It is the place that holds my heart, sweeps me into bliss and makes me feel safe. It’s my church. I always feel creative at the beach. I want to build sandcastles, write poetry, read classic novels, and paint. I did some of that–wrote poetry yesterday but today was “clean the house and drive 4.5 hours home” day…so I thought, “what am I going to blog today?” Hmmm…my fallback is my photography. I’m a photographer because I earned my MFA in Photography therefore, I should be a photographer, right? But, what if painting is calling me? Well, I didn’t have time to paint today so I leaned back on what I know and didn’t “create” something new. It feels like a cop-out because I didn’t exercise my creative mind. But, I still captured something I love, something that soothes my soul and something I’m proud of…even if it was captured with my iPhone (not my DSLR).
You have to be gentle with yourself too.