On Balance | The Collective
Each month I invite a small group of photographers, writers, and creatives to share their thoughts on a particular topic with our community. My hope is that this series provides a way for others to connect with multiple thoughts and opinions in one blog post.
It's rare that a single individual has the answer that every one else is looking for, but it's possible that through the power of a collective, through sharing our wisdom and being vulnerable, we can get a few steps closer.
This month I asked:
"How does photography provide a sense of balance in your life?"
I love that this question is being asked from a positive perspective! Simply put, trying to “balance” all of my different roles and responsibilities never worked for me because I always rationalized a really great excuse to put photography at the bottom of the list. Instead, I’ve chosen to prioritize my responsibilities and always make sure that photography is on my “to do” list, even if it’s just 30 minutes of shooting/editing a few days a week. Photography is challenging, relaxing and allows me to “see” my family and the area we live with a perspective that enhances my appreciation and gratitude for what we have. I slow down, appreciate the details and savor the everyday rather than rushing through it. Taking time for photography makes me happier, more thoughtful and better in my other roles, too.
As a mother of a threenager and wife of a Sailor who can deploy at a moments notice life can be very hectic. So photography provides a wonderful balance to the craziness in my world. It lets me be free from the stresses and worries of the day and allows me to focus on the little things going on around me. It's the one outlet that’s just for me where I can grow and be creative in the way I choose. (within “technical” reason, lol) The balance has built a special bond between my son and I and for that I am forever grateful.
When I consider balance and how photography has provided me with a sense of balance throughout my life, especially in the context of my family life, I'm immediately brought back to moments that I would have absolutely missed had it not been for photography making me slow down, study the moment, appreciate the moment and, finally, capture the moment. Photography makes me stop and truly take in the moments with my feisty, fast-moving trio that would otherwise be lost. It makes me balance on the tight rope of everything moving too quickly and time sometimes feeling as if it is standing still. It gives me the pause I need to appreciate and adore the people I love the most in this world.
While many of you started your photography journey in an effort to capture those fleeting moments of your children's lives, my motivation for pursuing photography stemmed from a very different direction. I had lost my sister to breast cancer and she was the family documentarian/photographer. I had also left my teaching job (which I enjoyed) in preparation for relocating: two very big losses resulting in lots of available time. Learning photography filled those voids I was feeling, helping me bring some balance back into my life.
I discovered a love for macro photography as well as landscapes. I find that both of these genres take me 'out of my head'. I forget about any worries that might be on my mind and I just focus on making the image. When I'm stressed, I grab my camera. With macro, it's that precise focus, depth of field, and composition that require my attention while forgetting about everything else. With landscapes, I'm out of the house viewing the beauty of nature; again looking for the depth and composition that will result in a pleasing image. Both are quiet, still, and beautiful. For me, photography continues to provide a sense of balance, an escape from tension, and a sort of therapy or meditation enabling me to face life's challenges again, but refreshed.
I've always been a maker... from friendship bracelets and little sewing projects as a kid, to quilts and DIY projects as an adult, I've always just had an urge to make stuff. But about a year into this parenting thing I realized I'd put all those maker urges on the back burner, and not having a creative outlet was making me a rather unpleasant person to be around. It was right around that time I decided to finally learn to shoot in manual, and photography turned out to be exactly what I needed to restore my sense of self. It gives me an opportunity, every single day if I want, to get those creative juices flowing. Selfishly, I get to indulge in something I love that fulfills me creatively, but the bonus is that the images I'm creating serve to document my family's story. Mama stays sane, our walls and photo albums fill up with memories, and everybody wins.
I love this question because I've been thinking about this a lot in my own life! I'm currently reading "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert, and she writes about the idea of being a "maker" and how humans have been creative beings for a really long time. It's a part of who we are. She says, "You do not need anyone's permission to live a creative life."
I know that photography provides a balance in my life because right now, it's not there. It's the slow season for me, right after the holidays. The clients are few and far between and I'm not picking up my camera as much as I normally do. At first I looked at it like a break, a vacation for my aching right hand that grips my Nikon. But I realize photography is so much more than that. It reminds me I'm a creative person, it forces me to use that other part of my brain, the part that isn't thinking about homework and after school activities. It balances out the everyday, the routine, the expected. Because no two sessions are alike. There's always something new, something exciting. Not that life itself doesn't have its moments. I still get nervous when I go out and shoot. And then when it's over, I look forward to going home to my family. There's the balance. Lucky me!
Photography balances out all the parts of me that I give to other people. It's something that is for me - and in the days of too many diapers, not enough sleep, and feeling like I am stretched too thin, being able to hold onto something that is just for me, just mine, is so important. It lets me be all the things I need to be for other people, because it gives me a place I can just be.