Hope is Powerful. (Part 4)

I had an amazing opportunity last week to see Elizabeth Smart speak at a symposium about childhood trauma.  Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her home 10 years ago and held captive for 9 months by a couple in Utah.  She was abused physically, emotionally, and sexually, yet despite what happened to her, she is such an incredibly strong, kind, funny, and optimistic young woman.  She has persevered through unimaginable trauma and I was truly humbled by her.  While her talk was much too brief, it was wonderful and she conveyed some very important messages that I truly took to heart.

She related that since her kidnapping, she has survived due to her close, supportive family, her faith, and her hope for the future.  She stated that having goals and strong values were some of the keys to her success.  I took her talk to heart.  It made my issues with anxiety and my work stress seem so small compared to what happened to her and furthermore, it made me realize that if photography helps me heal from my own struggles, then it should be a more prominent part of my life.  Her speech reinforced the pledge I made to myself earlier this year.

In February, I made a pledge to start getting serious about selling my photography. I joined Facebook and photography forums.  I entered contests (and actually won!)  I began blogging about my experiences as I rejoined the photography world after being gone for so long.  I blogged about my successes and places I visited.  I blogged about my frustrations with how much the art world had changed for me – how the community I loved so much in college has seemed to have dried up.  But I realized when I was asked to do this week of blog posts, that I had yet to blog about how and why it is important in my life.

Then I took it a step further and I had my dad critique my work *seriously scary stuff*.  I started revamping my website and going through my portfolio.  And then I realized that none of my photos had pictures of people.  So in an effort to connect spiritually with the survivors of the offenders I worked with in my professional life, I reached out to friends and family about photographing their children and chronicling their lives in a way I never thought I would or even could.  Being the youngest in my family and not having a lot of friends with children, I never really spent time with them.  I never understood them.  I always thought that distancing myself would help me do my job, but it was truly quite the contrary.  I gained a deeper understanding of what my purpose was and why it was so important to do the job I do.

Since this pledge, I believe I am more content.  I am finding a balance between my work life and my other passion.  I am growing a deeper connection and understanding with children and spending more time with the kids in my life.  However it is not always easy and I have been discouraged. Seeing Elizabeth speak last week was a mini wake up call.  I cannot let my struggles dictate my life.  If photography is what heals me, then photography, no matter what other people say (or even what I say,) is what needs to be in my life – even if I have to struggle to make room for it because of other commitments, my full-time job, or just sometimes being lazy.

I will continue with this pledge.  One to help people.  To connect with others on a level I never believed I could.  One to keep myself healthy emotionally by doing things I enjoy.  To continue taking photos and relish in the fact that they reflect both who I am and what I feel. To feel that it is okay if my photos are dark and lonely, but only if I then understand that somethings may need to change in my life. To continue connecting with other artists and blogging about my life experiences.  It’s a scary feeling, but a promising one too.  Hope is very powerful.  Without it, what’s left?

Normally I do not blog about these struggles and I keep more to photography related issues – so I found this week quite cathartic.  My WEBSITE is still being remodeled, however if you are interested in past blog posts related to photography and even my struggles navigating the photography world after being gone for so long, you can visit my old BLOG. Also, once my site is back up, I invite you visit my galleries and take into consideration what I have shared this week.  See if you can determine where I was emotionally while taking those photos.  You will however still not see pictures of people – namely because I’m just not far enough along in my journey to be sharing them yet.  Thanks for reading, A

Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.” – David Alan Harvey