The First Step
I’ve been contemplating writing a blog for some time. After all, I follow a number of blogs (more and more it seems) and look forward to reading them every day. I’ve found some truly inspiring, creative, interesting bloggers out there in the ether, and have wondered about joining their ranks and putting myself “out there.” But inevitably, I’d keep asking myself what I would write about, what did I have to offer, who would want to read what I had to say, and ultimately, does what I have to say really have to be public. I bashed myself for not being creative enough, interesting enough, clever enough, funny enough, and on and on. And yet, the internal urgings kept coming. They kept coming as I’ve longed for more balance in my life, as I’ve yearned to endeavor in more creative pursuits.
Alongside these firings in my brain and cravings in my heart, I very recently began exploring photography as a creative outlet and new hobby. I chose photography because it somehow seemed “safer” to me than learning or starting to paint, draw, play an instrument, sculpt, or quilt. You see, I was told at an early age, 2nd grade I think, by an art teacher that I “possessed no artistic ability whatsoever.” Honest. That was what this teacher wrote on my report card. And her message to my 8 year-old self has really stuck. I internalized her assessment and have believed her sentiments ever since. Rather than play as a kid and explore various artistic pursuits, I shut it down and only “consumed” art. I grew into an adult who loves art in all forms–film, theatre, paintings, drawings, sculptures, mosaic, music, quilting, and so many others. I love going to museums, seeing live theatre, watching independent films and documentaries, hearing live music. But to try any of those for myself? To be the creator of any of that? Oh no. I can’t do that. I’m not any good at any of that. And yet, 20-some years later, there is a part of me that wants to put all that judgment and fear to rest. A part of me that wants to soften her own critical edge. A part of me that is wanting to shift identities from being a consumer to being a creator.
Photography did seem, and still does feel, like a comfortable choice for me in moving toward a more creative life. I am so very drawn to photographs that take my breath away, that move me, that stir my emotions. And although pursuing photography felt like the less risky move, I also believe it’s the medium that is “right” for me, right now. When I got really still and listened to my longings, I kept coming back to images of vintage-looking shots from old Polaroids, dreamy shots from Dianas and Holgas, and (my favorite) shallow depth of field shots from digital SLRs. I started to feel a shift in my thinking and feeling: rather than just looking at other people’s photos, I wanted to make them. I wanted to get behind the lens and try it for myself.
So here I am, taking the first step in refocusing my life. I hope to write about my own process of becoming a photographer and exploring a creative life. I hope to find how photography and creativity helps me to focus on “what really matters.” And also, I hope you’ll pull up a chair and join me along the way.
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