If you don’t like how things are, change it. You’re not a tree.
It’s late and I am exhausted. My husband is sleeping soundly next to me and I am eager to join him. But, I want to write a little something before heading off to Dreamland. Writing always seems to help me sleep better.
I returned to work post maternity-leave January 2011. For almost 11 months now I have been struggling deeply with my place in this aggressive industry. I am completely distracted by my love for my child. By my love for being a mother. By my love for running a household and for investing in the relationships that make me … well me.
I have had more days than not that I’ve wanted to quit everything and disappear into the world of mine that exists offline. Yet, something … Someone has told me that’s not what my future holds.
And, so I’ve struggled. And, I’ve wrestled with God. I’ve prayed and journaled. I’ve cried to my husband. I one night yelled to him. “I think I’m losing it!” (I think at multiple times I have in fact lost it.)
How can I reconcile both my desire to be a present mother and my desire to run a successful business? How can I continue to be a part of an industry that is totally overwhelming me and wearing me out? Everyone is jumping on board and so many people are getting bigger and better. How can I keep up when the best parts of me are being given to my daughter?
And, then it hit me.
It took – no lie – over a solid year, a slew of intense moments with the Lord and even more moments of making my husband bug-eyed. It’s taken unloading to friends I trust in the industry and a whole bunch of nights sitting up late jotting down notes.
The industry has changed so much since I joined it five years ago. I look around and I feel like so many photographers’ work looks the same. Logos look the same. The wording on blogs sounds the same. People’s desires to buy more, get more and own more all sounds the same. Whoever knows the most is the best. Whoever has more followers on Twitter or likes on Facebook is the best. Whoever sharpens their photos just right, gets the skin tone just right, doesn’t get any bad shadows in their pictures, edits their photos most dramatically – yes, these are the people that are the best. You better be just like them or you are inferior.
But, this all bores me. Like really really bores me. I’m sick of not being inspired. So many of us are blessed to own these super cool things that put a rectangle around our worlds and then freeze them in time. Oh my gosh! Can you even believe how friggin’ amazing that is?!
So, how come if we’ve all been gifted some of the most amazing things ever created in this entire world are we spending more time than ever studying others’ work, calculating costs to get that cool new website, doubting ourselves, overwhelming our photos in Photoshop and so much more? How come we can’t all be happy just to take what we’ve been gifted and use these cameras of ours to capture the world around us the way we see it?
What if we found out that if one year from now every single camera in the entire world would disappear? What would our pictures look like these next 12 months? Breathtaking, I’m sure of it.
We wouldn’t dare waste our time on all the things (fancy watermarks and websites, kitschy writing, and self-doubting) that surround the only thing that matters (making photographs).
We would simply take our cameras in our hands and we would document every single bit of our lives. We’d have a pure desire to document the lives of those that don’t have the blessing of owning a camera. We’d be so much less critical of our own work. Maybe the lighting wasn’t just right, but at least I’ll never forget what it looks like when she’s curled up in his arms at the end of a long day.
So, it’s all quite clear to me now. I can in fact be a mother. I can in fact give the best parts of me to my family and run a successful business. I can in fact continue to teach and give and help other people grow in their photography. I can in fact continue the love affair I have with my camera (which is in major need of a cleaning, but how am I supposed to go without it for two whole weeks?!?).
Things are about to shift around here a bit and I think you’ll like it. It’s not bigger or grander. I would like to think it’s better though. It involves me and you and our cameras and our lives offline (a.k.a. the parts of our lives that are the most important).
I would never consider myself a genius, but I am crazy enough to think I can change the world. At least mine, my family’s and maybe .. just maybe .. yours, too.
Stay tuned …