Focusing on Life was a collaborative blog started by my friends Terri and Dotti as ‘a caring community for people who are passionate about photography and life. And a place to inspire, teach, nurture, support and accept one another; a place where we can grow in our craft and as individuals.’
I was a contributor to the Focusing on Life blog from May 2013 to August 2017. But before I became a contributor to FOL, I was a regular reader and found so much inspiration in the writing and photography of the original members of the blog. It was such a huge honor to be invited to guest-post for them in April 2013 where I was exploring creativity and originality.
I can tell you that, without a doubt, being a part of this talented and inspiring group of women photographers is one of the highlights of this part of my journey. But it is even more special because of the bond we all developed over the years and the fact that I now call these women my sisters and dear friends.
I am so proud of the content we all created, and I am so very grateful for the community and inspiration that being a part of FOL has brought to my life.
I would just like to start out by saying what an honor and thrill it is to be guest-posting here at Focusing on Life. I am such a fan of this group, and I so appreciate this warm, inviting community they have created. It has been a huge source of inspiration on my own journey with photography. And so today I thought I would share some thoughts with you about two things that are very near and dear to my heart…
Music and photography.
So currently, in my neck of the woods, there are four country music radio stations. Which would lead you to believe that there are a lot of country music fans where I live. Which there are. And I am one of them.
Confession…If I was ever going to audition for American Idol, ‘Fancy’ by Reba McIntire would be my audition song.
Thank you for not judging me.
Now I know country music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I think one of the reasons that country music is so popular and speaks to so many people (including myself) is because of its universal themes. You’ve probably heard the quote by Harlan Howard, “country music is three chords and the truth.” But really to me, country music is about love, loss, family, faith, growing up in a small town – all things I so totally relate to.
Anyway, I specifically recall last summer that one of the more popular themes on the radio had to do with driving an old, beat-up truck down a country road with a girl sitting beside you going to a party in a field somewhere and drinking something out of a dixie cup. May I present to you as evidence:
- Luke Bryan – I Don’t Want this Night to End
- Kip Moore – Somethin ‘bout a Truck
- Jason Aldean – Take a Little Ride
It’s interesting to me how these three songs are all pretty much about the same thing, but yet they all sound different. Each song-writer infused the lyrics with his particular story and elements from his own experience. And then each of the performers sung those lyrics with his own voice and expression. Those two things combined – the story and the voice – give three songs about basically the same thing a unique appeal. Each song brings something different to the party (lame pun intended).
Well, I was thinking about this as my family and I were heading home from Dallas last weekend. Listening to country music radio naturally. And I was on my laptop looking through the multitude of photos I had taken during my trip to the Dallas Arboretum with Terri and Leigh. It was the first time I had ever met friends for a photography outing, and I have to tell you…it was just the most awesome experience.
One of the things I thought was so interesting was how the three of us saw the same things, yet captured them a little differently. For instance, there was this one delightful little spot in the park that had an awesome path with a sweet, little bridge. The trees in the background where so pretty, but the real show-stopper was the wide swath of the prettiest pink tulips in the foreground. The three of us instantly recognized it as a great photo-op and so of course started snapping away.
So yeah, the three of us took a photo of basically the exact same thing. But yet, when you see them together like this, you can see where each of the photos has a distinctive look. Each of us cropped and processed our photo with our own creative sensibilities. Each of us imparted our own voice and story into the photo.
The thing is…I think whether you’re writing a country music song or creating a photographic image, there is a desire in all of us for our creative expression to be unique. Finding your voice or your style is all part of the creative journey and it’s something I’ve definitely struggled with. A lot. But not too long ago, I stumbled across this quote by C.S.Lewis:
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”
I just find this to be so liberating! Because the truth is, my love for home, family, and nature is nothing revolutionary. These are universal themes that have been explored with a camera lens for many, many years. But after spending the day with Terri and Leigh, I can tell you without question that it is possible to ‘see’ things differently.
And so now I can stop worrying so much about finding my own creative style, because really all I have to do to be original is be me.
Being creative or original is really just telling my story and singing my song.
And I thank you so much from the very bottom of my heart for letting me share it with you today.