I hope you had a wonderful start to your holiday season
I hope as well, that you don’t mind the gaping silence since the last post.
Truth is, the trip to Austin exceeded expectations in every way, and then some. Here I am, three weeks later, still decompressing and working through all the ideas, inspiration, anxieties, hopes, dreams and fears that came up during the week. It was intense, exhausting and powerful, and these words that I’m conjuring do little justice to express the depth of the experience.
As my silence showed, we didn’t have alot of time to post scenic “postcards from the road”. Every ounce of energy went into talking, doing, living and breathing all things photography, from ‘boring’ stuff like photo archiving and backup options to getting awestruck at a presentation of George Krause‘s work. The week was billed as a “spiritual and creative tune-up”, but oh, it was more than that. So much more. PhotoMuse was my coming out party – as a creative person. I came home realizing that I no longer wanted to be ‘theoretically creative’, to paraphrase Hal Fields in Beginners, that it’s time to stop living in my mental space of “If onlys” and start living in the world of “Whys, Hows and Why Nots”.
When you spend an entire week within an ecosystem of creativity that pushes you beyond your limits, and in the process, understand yourself a little better, growth happens. Midway through the week, I realized that I had become more sensitive to the world around me. I started to slow down as I began to really *see* my environment, and to take my time with making pictures. I even started to say “make a photo” instead of “take a photo”. I finally understood, what it means when a photographer says “it’s about seeing”. Because what she really means, is that photography is about paying attention – to your subject, your environment, and to yourself, the photographer, to what disturbs and confronts you and piques your curiosity and fuels you. It takes training and constant, dedicated practice, but it’s a practice that’s not only about mastering the latest gear or software, it’s a practice that trains your eye and heart to be more sensitive, that trains you to open up and be more receptive to what the world has to offer, and to be patient while the process happens. It trains you to learn to tune in to yourself, to be comfortable when you’re uncomfortable, and to transcend that. Photography, is, ultimately, about the craft of getting in touch with yourself, your vision and what you have to say.
No reflection on PhotoMuse would be complete without mentioning the talented group of people I had the fortune to meet. I realize that this starts to gild the lily of effusiveness in an already dramatic and gushing post, but believe me when I say that the words ‘talented’ and ‘generous’ barely touch the surface. In just five days, they showed me what a powerful photograph looks like, and what it means to be a part of a community, in a real and honest way. Considering my historical aversion to the ‘C’ word, its use in this context is no small thing. I saw it at work in Oregon, and I saw it at work here too, only this time I got to be a part of it, from beginning to end. And it continues, even today. The relationships forged over that week were seeds in fertile soil – for us as a group and as individuals – the best gift I received out of that week were the friends I made as well as the gift of seeing.
When Thanksgiving rolled around last week I thought about how far things have come in just one year, and how immensely grateful I am for all of it. Last year, I was celebrating the gift of being alive, and while its still relevant, I can’t deny that the biggest gift of 2011 has been the gift of community, whether it’s here, Etsy, Twitter, Instagram or on Facebook.
I’ll be back in the next couple of days with a light and easy recipe that will fuel you through the madness of holiday shopping and baking. Till then, have fun browsing through a slideshow of our work from the week, and a wider selection of images on my site. My project was to document the lives and stories of a local band, and photographing them in their sleep counts as the most outrageous thing I’ve ever done. So far.