It’s been almost eight years since I first picked up a fancy camera.
It’s been even longer than that since I first wrote on this blog.
& all the while, the dots have felt so disconnected. I keep saying that phrase, “connect the dots.” It’s one of my favorites. I love wrestling with making sense of the puzzle. Why? When? How? (in a much more exasperated tone than I can type with letters that show up on a screen.)
But the struggle to make sense of it all, for someone who really needs to have a plan, is real.
I’ve spent a lot of the last several years being quiet. Quiet here, and in my real life. Being a homebody, or spending time with just my kids in the forest. It’s been great for all of us, and I think allowing so much of the noise that controls my life some space to breathe is helping me connect these dots. Letting books and nature into my head, simultaneously, has been so good. But lately, every single day, my hands reach for one thing:
My eyes squint. I study the light. I tilt my head. & I see something that inspires me.
I have such a love hate relationship with my camera. I love her and despise her. She means work and she means play. & understanding these “dots” and how I sit with the path I have taken has been a big wrestling match. Business vs. Pleasure.
Seven years ago I got my first dslr and I really enjoyed it. I played. I learned. I was at a place in my life where I was about to give up my first big girl job, for my husband’s career, and it was scary. So what did I do? I dove into art. An interesting coincidence (?) that I never picked up on until this week.
I started my color consulting business and took pictures along the way. & then, with no more corporate job (and no real desire for one anymore) and everyone talking in my ear, I let myself turn that new love of photography into a business. If people would pay me, I should get paid. (right?!!) & in one fell swoop, I went from loving the art to loathing it. Pretty darn quickly.
I loved taking pictures! (well, some pictures…)
But I hated sitting at the computer.
I loved dreaming up ideas for images!
But I sat and compared myself to everyone else & got increasingly frustrated that I couldn’t take my version of their idea and get what was in my head out of my camera.
I loved that people loved my work!
But there I was. At the computer again. Download, cull, edit, deliver.
& It stole my joy.
So I put the camera down.
& eventually, I finally got to have my first baby. & still had that expensive camera. & I let my guilt for having nice equipment and not making any money with it, totally kill that joy I got from making pictures. For a VERY long time. How dare I let myself spend so much on a camera and lens and computer and software if I am not even going to do what I promised to do with it? What will people think if I just give it all up? Who am I if I don’t follow through on my business plan? I am NOT a quitter! So much shaming. Coming from no one but myself.
I wish I could have known then what I know now: I just really like to make stuff. Give me a tool, I’ll learn it. If I like it, I’ll use it. A lot. & if I love it. Well. Try not to over do it. Seek joy, not a business.
Today I can step back and see the clearer picture. It tells the whole story, which really comes down to the fact that I do really like taking pictures. I love printing them. & even more than that, I ADORE hanging them on my walls to enjoy. My photographic art makes my home MY home. I love to decorate above all else. & to do so with my own images is what creates my personal brand of magic.
Had I never had a business, I would’ve never bought a fancy camera or have acquired the level of knowledge I have to do what I like to do with images. Had I never wrestled with starting a business vs. being home with my kids, my conviction to stay home may not be as solid. Had I not had this art form to capture the precious story in my home, that ONLY I could capture in my way, I would not have some of my most treasured work.
But I didn’t need to make it a business. I let my marketing mind take over & create a niche market, focusing so hard on one aspect of creativity that I let the rest slide. & I don’t think that’s healthy for a creative soul. When you like to make stuff, it’s never just one kind of thing. Maybe it is for a successful photographer, but for me, my heart and hands need to make more than pictures.
Will I ever have a photography business again? Definitively, No.
Will I ever stop taking pictures? No way!!
But the pictures I did make, and continue to make, tug at my heartstrings. I don’t take them for anyone but me. They are the story of my experience, because I got to be there. I got to freeze the moment of joy, amidst the sea of hardships, and I get to hang on to that. Maybe, someday, even share it. Maybe my kids won’t care. & that’s ok. I have enjoyed the process & there is something about what I see that I’m often called to photograph. So I listen. It’s all part of the story. & as I keep feeling the intense urge to use my camera again, in a way I haven’t felt in a long time, I am really curious and excited to see what I can make next.
My photography is a big part of my creative life. Business or not. (But mostly not.) It’s one dot on my creative map, leading me to and from everything else that brings me creative joy. From the kitchen to the sidewalk to the forest and everything in between.
I am a photographer & I want to document this colorful life. So I will. But I’m not stopping there…