Last night on my evening walk, I came across a neighbor’s weathered picket fence. Peeking out from the other side were some rebellious little black-eyed susan blooms, like they were trying to get a good look at the world beyond their confines. It was so charming. A little moment of delight and whimsy in an otherwise ordinary day. So naturally I took a photo.
Early on in my photography practice, I probably would have been way too much in my head about taking this photo. Probably because I was still shooting with my “scrapbooker” mentality…following my family around, trying to preserve all the special moments and memories. But along the way, I slowly started to give myself permission to shoot for myself. Part of that process was finding my photographic voice (so to speak), and part of it was simply breaking free from the tyranny of my inner critic. Today’s post from 2013 marked a big step in that liberation.
I’m so grateful for these posts that document my evolution as a photographer. And my sincere hope is that they inspire or encourage you on whatever kind of creative journey you might be on.
“Why is she taking a picture of that ugly, old boat?”
That’s what my friend, Suzanne, was thinking while I was standing there taking pictures.
She confessed this to me on the phone one day. It had only been a week or so after we got back from our vacation to St. John, and I had finally gotten around to sharing a few of my photos on my blog. But when she saw that photo in context with the rest of the photos of the adventure that day, she said, “I totally get it.” And that simple comment…even to this day….well, I’m not sure if she could possibly know what a confidence booster it was to me at the time.
That vacation was two years ago. I’d had my fancy new DSLR camera for about a year and had just scratched the surface of photography. This photo would have been before any of my Big Picture Classes so it’s not really the greatest photo. But it was there….the desire to capture not just the highlights of our trip, but the experience. The details. The heart. The story.
So fast forward two years and as I’m putting together this blog post, I am knee deep in laundry and unpacking from our vacation to Destin.
And as you would probably imagine, I took a lot of photos. One rainy afternoon while we were at the beach, I was going through my photos on my camera. My friend, Carrie, was sitting next to me and she gave me the biggest compliment by saying, “What makes your photos so interesting is your point of view.”
I have to admit, it was a conscious decision on my part…before we even left for our trip I had decided that I was going to leave my inner critic at home. This time I was going to shoot differently. I mean, ok sure, I took lots of photos of the beach and the water and of us having fun. But I also wanted to capture photos of things that spoke to me. Little details that touched my heart. Even if they weren’t necessarily “beach” or “vacation” photos. You know what I mean?
Learning to shoot for myself has been a defining area of my journey in photography. I think being a ‘scrapbooker’ definitely had an impact on my photography. Especially in the beginning…mostly shooting to preserve the precious memories of my family and friends. And to some degree there will always be a part of me that shoots with that goal in mind – preserving, documenting, celebrating.
But in the last year or so, I’ve slowly started allowing myself to take a break from the memory-keeping mentality. Finding the confidence to capture the light as well as the memories. Find the heart in the story – the way I see it.
It’s been so liberating. And it’s brought me so much joy.