2015 has really been a year of exploring a new direction. A lot of the time I have felt like I'm sinking, not going forward, stuck.... but doing this exercise has shown me just how much play and different approaches I have taken this year. And its been fun. I want to do more in 2016 and bring my new ways of doing and adding artistic embellishments to client work.
2015 was the first year since beginning Crackle Photography in 2004 that I had given up a studio space. It felt like a huge void and totally had me second guessing myself a lot, especially in the first part of the year when it was so cold and not ideal to work outdoors in Montana.
I have allowed myself a great deal of time this year to study with the people whose talent and art makes my heart sing. My friend Brooke Shaden did this exercise of pulling 10 favorite images together from the year to help identify common themes, threads that without stepping back we may miss.
From this collection of favorites I conclude its been a huge part of my development for the year to allow more play into my work. To make images more artistically. To step back and get a bigger picture. To use mixed media. To not be so literal.
Symbols and nature, stories are told, we can all interpret them differently, but I really thrived exploring some themes, and telling my feelings. This image was related to a post about the angst of teenage years.
And how to bring it all into some client work in the end. My muse Lillie, helped me see the way.
2016 will see me work more with symbols, landscapes, clothing and props creating magical, dreamy like images. Imagery with meaning, with stories, with connection to my heart. Bringing play and joy to work, creating artistic pieces that are unique to the subject, meaningful to them and I.
Thank you to all my teachers this year, Joyce Wilson, Julianne Jonker, Lisa Evans and Jennifer Thoreson. Thank you to my friends I made on these retreats and thank you to my family, friends and clients here in Missoula. Wishing you all a happy successful 2016.
Truthful Tuesday - well I have been lost in the fog - the holidays and thought.
So what comes of this? The realization is that every day, just a step and action will bring me closer to goals and dreams. This often is hard now that there is not a motivator but myself. The new direction needs to be led from within. So goal for 2016 is it put on the big girl pants and take a step every day, risk a little and lurch onward and forward.
My friend Brooke Shaden has explored her year by going through her favorite images and reflecting on her direction and what grew this year in her inspiration garden.
Before I can do that I needed to explore what is going on. Why do I stop and start at the moment. Fear of failure and a whole new beginning with photography is definitely a component. So today I set out to take advantage of the fresh snow and think about where I am at.
I guess you can say I have been wandering in thought and contemplation. I have been twirling ideas through my head and still have not settled on a path.
Recently I have been interested in learning more about things that are important in people's lives and how to incorporate these things into imagery. What stories do we have that have deep meaning and how to bring that to our reality. I dream of creating fine art series for people. The subject in the images is themselves, the objects and symbols in the images totally personal to them.
So to encourage you to think in these ways and see what I am going on about, I am jumping first. Beginning at the beginning. I am born in the Chinese Year of the Sheep (1967). This year 2015 is also the year of the Sheep.
According to the internet here are some traits of Sheep! People born in the Year of Sheep are tender, polite, filial, clever, and kind-hearted. They have special sensitivity to art and beauty and a special fondness for quiet living. They are wise, gentle and compassionate and can cope with business cautiously and circumspectly. In their daily life, they try to be economical. They are willing to take good care of others, but they should avoid pessimism and hesitation.
I have a friend who wanted to do a shoot with Big Horn Sheep horns, and I am lucky my kind neighbor who works with Boone and Crockett here in Missoula leant me a magnificent rack. OK all I have to say is these Big Horn Sheep have incredibly strong necks, those horns are so heavy. These ones are from a 15 year old animal - they count the rings on the horns kind of like a tree to ascertain the age.
It is a struggle to find a new way to portray art and people. I have to stretch myself and believe I am doing the right thing, finding a new way for my voice to sing and for my creativity to express itself. I think we can be really hard on ourselves, just giving myself a permission slip to explore the new, leave the proven path... is downright scary.
Its all part of a journey. What I have discovered is if I am not being authentic and exploring a new way to express myself then the work is work, its no longer a passionate thing. Which is a necessity for me to thrive when clicking the shutter. So here is a step toward that new thing.
Well here I plunge, a new tell all approach - every Tuesday it is my new personal challenge to show up and just be honest about me and why I do what I do. What matters to me, makes me laugh, cry or be plain crazy. I figure if you don't know my stories how will you trust me to tell yours.
So back in May I went to study with a gifted artist and even more skilled business woman Lisa Evans in California It was a great workshop and a lot of fun. The one assignment we had was to bring to the class the most meaningful image we have.
I thought about this long and hard. Yes I love my kids, adore my husband, treasure my family, am besotted with my dogs... but this is not ME. I interpreted the assignment to be an image deeply personal and connected to me - and in turn that meant it had to be me...
So I turn up and everyone else has either not bought images or they have bought the cat picture, their kids... oh boy I was hiding - and eventually it was last call and it was my turn. So I showed the image below. The print in the matt as I have had it for several years and it was passed around the room. Lisa asked why this image - why is it meaningful for you?
I really didn't want to share then, and its a leap to do so now... but here goes.
This picture is of me as I turned one with the dog my parents got when they were first married, Sheba. I am the first of four children - and maybe I just liked it better being the one and only?! Who knows but by my teens when I was at boarding school, I felt unwanted, not good enough to be accepted and loved for who I was. I struggled as a teen. I loathed boarding school, I found my contemporaries to be horrible mean little girls, and I spent years just crossing off days on a calendar.
What a waste of a time, of freedom and development. I hear that, I know that... what can I say apart from I was truly miserable, deeply sad, introverted and lonely.
It kept going after college, my split from my family grew and then I really drove the wedge by taking a trip around the world from which I still have not returned.
Today, I am glad to say the wedge is not so big. I have grown up and I am now a mother so I know you always try to do the best for your children and love them however crazy they may be at you, or vice versa. A few years ago when my mum came to visit she bought me some old photos. This was the first time I had seen this picture in years - or in my memory ever. I treasure it.... I wish I could credit the photographer but I don't know who it was - there was no stamp... but I do know that he also liked it and had it as a display image for a long time in his front window!!
Why? Well for starters - I am the only one of the 4 of us who got to have professional pictures taken as a baby or before any of us were married!!! Plus its with the precious dog!! Really though, the picture showed me how much I was loved and adored as a baby. It reassures me that despite my lifestyle differences and the challenges that I have put my parents through over the years, we still have that deep love connection that only is possible for out children.
Every time I look at this picture I think of how young my mum was when she had me 22. My dad was 26. When they sent me to boarding school at 11 they had two more kids under 4 and my sister Pip only eighteen months younger than me. And she loved boarding school. I am still super sensitive person; and I over react to most personal comments or analyze things and situations to pieces...
But I am tougher. I have grown my pitiful self esteem issues into a healthy problem I am still working on!! I am trying to be kinder to my self, accept and embrace my flaws. Forgive myself for being so unhappy and victimized during those years. Forgive my anger to my family.
I am truly grateful that I am still blessed to have both my parents and my sisters. The rifts are healed. Family is family. We all do crazy things to one another. But what is most important is that we love each other like crazy whatever choices and decisions are made. Kindness is key. Empathy and listening important.
I am excited to be going to England this week to spend time with my parents and sisters. To see my cousins. To celebrate my aunt's 70th and my parents 50th wedding anniversary. I embrace my weaknesses, in fact I am going to face the ghosts and visit the dreaded boarding school to see if that brings some closure.
The take home of all this - is I ask you what is the most important image you have? Feel free to share below or email me your story. Do you feel like you need an image to tell your story? Do you have images that let others that you love know that they are treasured?
Thanks for reading - I appreciate it, truly.
By the way now I have figured out why this is so important to me I have also framed it in the most beautiful Roma frame!!
To grow and stretch - to ride the ups and downs of the creative life. To hold the faith when the valley is deep. To be kind, to be patient with myself, to believe.
Part of my journey right now includes putting aside my Friday to study an artist - today I have picked Sarah Moon. Born in France in 1941 Sarah Moon's work is legendary in photography circles. She started out as a model but by the early 1970s she had removed herself from in front of the lens to behind the camera. I am reading about her life. Studying her imagery. Ordering myself an early birthday present - that will get here around my birthday - a collection of her works
And then I found this video on Youtube, and however good you are perceived to be - you still personally struggle, wonder if the light, the moment and talent will all come together - sometimes it feels futile even to the greats... but they keep going, they keep trying, searching, digging deeper. As my friend Jennifer Thoreson says
Inspired Idea + Relentless energy + Strong Technique = Conceptual art
So here is a beautiful video of Sarah Moon's process, thoughts and for me a well of pure talent and inspiration.