My heroes + heroines are all of us who create our lives, juiced by our YES, our passions & what gives us meaning, inspiring the smile from our soul at 4AM when we rise to jump in to our day’s fresh canvas.
I know many of us carry secrets of feeling somewhat a fraud, not good enough, unable to live into our dreams—while appearing outwardly as successful creatives… or at least confident ones.
Do we see ourselves…our real selves?
I was so focused in the beginning of my photography journey on whether I was seen. How could I stand out. Did people notice my work. Was it good enough.
I look back with pain (and love) for the me who swam in that energy. And yet, it is a chorus not uncommon, especially in beginnings, transitions… even successes.
As we continue to evolve past our creative plateaus and achievements, those questions of doubt and vulnerability may well be cyclical visitors, knocking on our thoughts when we are engaged in challenging ideas, making work that mirrors our frontiers, our expanding beyond our safe territory.
Sometimes we are so embedded in our way of seeing our world and our work that we need outside eyes to launch us from that stasis. Thankfully (but with a heap of anguish in the process), I was called out by a revered mentor for hiding, for not being present in my work. That inquiry—where am I in my photography—pivoted my world and launched me into abject lostness.
I didn’t even know what to do with the question. But he assured me, the answer would come in making work.
I traveled to countries new to me, wondering if in the unknown I would see more clearly. I revisited cities in my work travels looking to see in familiarity whether I would open to new strata of knowing me in my work.
I made thousands of images. I felt the exhilaration when I created moments in my frame I had never before noticed or imagined. I judged myself for recreating images when I was not newly inspired. I kept shooting. I kept looking. I kept going. I became my story. And in that journey, I saw myself inhabit my frame differently. From barely there to engaging directly with my lens.
In shifting how I showed up in front of my own camera, I noticed that same transformation in how I showed up in my life. I stood taller, engaged more directly when I might have preferred to minimize. I took up my own space instead of diminishing.
Two years later, the question I now relish, is DO I SEE ME?
I loved being a secret hider. I could be engaging and sociable and connect genuinely with people. But I would hold back. The quirkiest part, the wildness that I thought only I could relate to—tucked away. I was hiding part of me.
Freedom is personal. Are we living our fullest selves? Are we letting a fear or a connection define us? Are we diminishing because we might be too much?
Photography, both street + portraits, showed me the wildness, the daring, the courage & joy I had muted. Seeing that vibrance in myself (not the same as what we see in our mirrors), I began to show up differently. As my visual voice freed up, so did I. I saw the me I knew me to be, entirely. And I stepped into my own skin.
Sure, I love tucking in with my pup, taking a disconnect day (or several) from the world. But that’s not hiding. For me, that is restorative. With that self-recharging interlude, I then am able to be entirely with you when we are together.
If you are hiding from yourself, I offer you this: Seeing your spark within you is life-transforming. Healing. It is a pathway to wholeness.
Life responds in kind when we meet it with our full selves.
Most importantly, when we SEE ourselves, we are SEEN.
I also want to offer you a portal with endless inspiration and education. As creators, creatives, makers and entrepreneurs, we thrive on learning, growing, expanding our skill sets and our refining our mindsets. One of the most enriching ongoing commitments I made to myself is to stretch beyond my current capabilities and visions through learning. CreativeLive is a phenomenal source for the creator in all of us to learn from experts in thousands of disciplines, from yoga to crafting to coding to photography. Classes air for free online, via their app, and you can purchase them for your own personal library of inspiration. I will periodically share links with discounts on classes or on their annual creator’s pass (which I signed on for and watch courses almost every morning). But when you feel your creative tank is low or you are in neutral and can’t find your gear, please check out their offerings.
Thank you for sharing my practice with me.