“No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.”
~ Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way
It has been three years ago, almost to the day, that I picked up my camera for real. Oh I took photos before that for sure; I have boxes and boxes of them to prove it. And some of them where amazing and really good, but if truth be told. . . most of them where predictable and automatic. Most of them were taken without much thought; but rather hurried and almost desperate like.
I had one goal in mind when I picked my camera up and that was to get it off auto mode. I set out to understand what all those buttons did and how they worked and I just kept shooting what I had always shot and didn't give much thought to what I took photos of. I figured I would continue to do what I did, but just understand it a bit better.
I signed up for a class online and then signed up for another and with the second one there came a private flickr group and it was there that I became awe struck. I soon had my own flickr stream and I had contacts I followed and I poured over photos that really spoke to me. Soon I was looking for light and seeking out moments of our simple everyday life and documenting these moments and I was in love with the whole process.
The simplicity of these photos and how they told a story (even if it was just my story) really spoke to my heart. They fulfilled me in a way that was somewhat foreign to me as I had never really been the creative type. I cruised along, seeking shadows and coffee mugs, taking photos of my feet, open books, sunsets and windows.
And then it happened. I hit explore a few times on flickr. I had people I didn't know start following me. My circle got larger and larger and I felt I needed to get better and better and move beyond my backyard, our home and get out in the real world and take "real" photos. And so that is what I did. I read books on people shots and street photography and landscapes. I bought an off camera flash, even though I love natural light even when it is dark and grainy. I bought a macro lens and took hundreds of flowers shots, and sat for hours trying to capture insects and birds and rose pedals.
I hit explore again and again then would worry if a few weeks went by and none of my photos were picked. I joined 500px and got more likes. People I knew were telling me I was really getting good, but they also were giving me the silent treatment on some of the photos I loved the best. I could see the questioning wheels turning in their heads and I felt doubt creep in that I had it all wrong.
I found myself taking less and less of the photos I loved, and focusing more on things I thought others wanted to see. In fact when I look at my photo library over the last few months those everyday moments are almost extinct. They are just not there and instead my library is full of me trying, but really not succeeding. Me, trying to do what I think others expect of good photography. The photos feel forced and while some of them might be good technically, they do not speak to my heart and they do not fill my creative yearning.
I love to admire the work of others, pour over photos of candid streets shots and babies all curled up in tiny cocoons. I love rivers and beautiful landscapes and close ups of flowers just like I love pottery mugs, knitted shawls and good books. But my creative side does not lay awake at night yearning to create these things. And yet, a sink of dirty dishes screams at me at times. My creative juices start flowing and I wonder what I might possible do with it.
I have learned a lot about my camera over the last three years, and that was my goal. But now I want to learn more. So I have actually signed up for a real class at our community college, which starts in a few weeks. It is a mid level class and I hope I won't be sorry I didn't take the beginning class. I think it will be good for me to have hands on experience with others about the more advanced technical side of my camera.
What I am learning now however is what it feels like to be an artist. I am learning to be true to my heart and my eye and not worry about what others think. I am also learning to take myself seriously because if I can't, no one else can either.
mid-week and the rain is pouring here,
hope the day is good to you, xooox