Holding Your Truth Gently. Photography as The Vehicle for Authentic Self
"Our stories are our tapestry, the winding form and color of all our collective circumstances. We reveal our authentic self in the images we make and share."
I noticed something recently when I was working on my website. Many of my blogs begin with "and there have been a lot of changes". It is an observation that energy is constantly moving and there is always chaos. Therefore, I think we have to fall out of love with the idea that things will "settle". I dont think the boat ever stops rocking Things move and change because we are always growing. Our authentic selves are always evolving. Because there is constant chaos, I think there is a tendency to wrestle with uncertainty: we want to be settled, we THINK we should "be in a good/happy place", and all we feel is suffering. If we are not carefully present, we can miss the opportunities to grow there at the unsettled edge. I also believe this is why we as photographers keep shooting, making images and raising our cameras. Our images evolve as we do....photography becomes the vehicle that delivers our stories. Our stories are our tapestry, the winding form and color of all our collective circumstances. We reveal our authentic truth in the images we make and share. We shoot from the edge.
Every feeling is part of the process. Every mindful moment is a chance to grow. Yet, we have a tendency to cover up, to mask and to push away any unsettled bad feeling. I often hear the term "go to your happy place". I think thats a myth, a misnomer, if you will. Every message we receive in our society tells us to push away bad feeling, to mask it, to take a drug or a drink or a new car. It is the highest form of self judgement to mask unsettled feelings. And it is exactly the time you should pick up your camera and “do your process”. Be grateful for the moments when you feel rattled, unsettled, ansy and vacant. That is your processes summoning you to work.
"Chaos should be regarded as very good news"; A quote from Buddhist Andrew Holecek that I've referred to before. Chaotic energy is valuable in that it means energy is moving and YOU are growing. You are not staying put in one framework. We miss this opportunity often times....because it feels like crap. I'm being honest. Change feels like shit, it’s exhausting, it makes your stomach hurt and it can be dark. But if you are present to this feeling and bravely dismiss the idea of masking it, these moments are rich with information and growth. My recommendation is to invite the gross feeling in, to sit with it and let it stay for a while. Pick up your camera and see what different energy flows. When you are feeling uncertain, it is the best time to raise your camera. The changes that are evolving in you will be present in your images. Therefore, here, you are treating your process gently, with compassion. You are allowing change to happen so you get closer to an authentic you. The "light of photography" may be in you....but it takes YOU recognizing your own process to allow it to evolve. This is an intentional action done by you. Feel>Sit>flow>intention>practice/action, all the while breathing.
I want to suggest that you are a photographer because you are present to your process (at different levels). That you yourself recognize your own dark places. That you at least feel some sort of unsettled edge that prompts you to create. If you were happy and comfortable all the time you wouldn’t make different images. You wouldn’t feel that critical PULL of your camera. So the next time you feel that "stuck" feeling, honor that it is just your creative process evolving, changing as you change. You’re not stuck or having a creative block, you are experience a most valuable creative movement. Stay with this process and allow it to flow.
As you authentically evolve, your photography will encapsulate sadness, happiness, grief and anger. Recognize what you are feeling and proceed with your images in that vein. Don’t force or resist, don’t feel the push to make a "happy" image. Everyone relates to dark feeling, so if your image holds that emotion, it will resonate. Be authentic and honest and give up judging yourself. It isn’t about competition or keeping up...your images are about you and your process.
Honor your process; honor the gift of your visual story as it is told through your camera. Let yourself evolve and breathe. Visit with the darkness, then proceed.