All of my creation is an effort to weave a web of connection with the world. I am always weaving it because it was once broken. ~ Anais Nin, Winter 1942 via Lisa Congdon and Brain Pickings
In our visual journaling workshop, Sally Drew (my co-facilitator) posed the following questions to the group, which I’m going to try to answer for myself in this post.
I believe that these questions are important and should be revisited regularly. Why? Because life is too short to waste. There are so many choices in every moment. If we want to make the most of our time here, then it’s important to understand the motivations behind what we choose to do.
As someone with a passion for photography, I take a lot of pictures. My camera is my constant companion. Why?
Why do I take photographs?
It turns out that I asked myself this question back in 2012 and tried to answer it in this post. At that time, I said,
“When I experience a connection with something just as it is, it becomes more than a subject. It reveals something universal that resonates deep inside. It is magical. It changes me and the way I see. It opens me up just a little bit more to the world and how everything (including me) belongs.”
The main reason I photograph is to connect or to fully experience the connection that is already there. That connection transforms me. And then, I want to share it with others so that they can see it and be transformed too.
This connection gets lost sometimes when I’m in my head, thinking about the past or future. Anais Nin’s quote above describes this well for me.
I’m a visual person. Images are how I remember. When I did my first 365 day project in 2007, I found that I remembered so much more than usual from that year. I was thinking in pictures so I even remembered more clearly events that I’d not photographed.
Photography brings me into the moment. It helps me to distill the essence of that moment within the frame. I experience it with all of my senses, not just my sight.
Photography helps me to identify what’s most important in the moment – what exactly is resonating and how can I express that in a photograph?
Why am I drawn to my camera as a companion?
My mission in life is to fully experience and embrace life with my whole self – mind, body, and heart. I’ve found that my camera helps me to do this.
While sometimes the camera can serve to distance ourselves from the world (and it’s important to know when this is happening), it can also help us to be more courageous (visit new places, meet new people) and connect in new ways.
When I have my camera with me, it’s a constant reminder to be here now. When a moment arises where I feel that connection, the photograph becomes a way to honour the moment.
Why do I feel that I don’t know enough to love the photographs I’m taking?
Over the past few years, I’ve learned to love most of my own photographs, and to share them, without worrying about how they’ll be received (okay, maybe not all the time, but I’m getting better). I know that what resonates with me will not resonate with everyone, or even anyone.
Sometimes we don’t know enough and it shows in our photographs. When that happens, many of us get down on ourselves and look to external sources. We think that more knowledge or better tools will fill the gap.
Learning how to use our camera and learning the elements of composition and design are important skills to have. What we need most of all, though, is practice (lots of it), self-compassion, and self-awareness.
We need to examine those photographs that we don’t love and reflect on what drew us to them in the first place. We need to ask ourselves what works and what doesn’t and how we could have better expressed what we saw.
By slowing down (pause, focus) and taking the time to connect to ourselves and express what’s inside, we will quite naturally love our photographs, even when they’re not perfect.
I hope you’ll take the time to answer these questions for yourself.
The onine visual journaling workshop is now in session, but we’ll be offering a one day in-person workshop on this subject in Burlington, Ontario on Saturday, July 18th. Burlington is a half hour drive west of Toronto.
If you’re interested and live in the area (or will be in the area), please learn more here.