Big News!

You may have heard the rumour that I am relocating to beautiful British Columbia next year. It’s true.

It has been a year of transformation and growth for me, and it means huge changes in my life and in my business.

I have spent the past 10 years photographing people in my community. I have watched couples unite, and families grow. I have shared joy and sadness, and my heart has been along for the entire journey. I have fallen in love time and time again, especially with the children I work with, and I do believe that has been the greatest part of my work. Sharing your lives and your families has been a beautiful, amazing gift for me. I have learned so much, and I have been a part of so many incredible moments.

Many of you have shared in my joy as well. I met a wonderful man who became the missing piece of my family. Next year we will celebrate our 3rd anniversary. I have found joy beyond measure, and I have never been happier. Our future is taking us west, and our adventures will continue there. We are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to be together as a family for good.

My business in Ontario will officially close in June 2015. There are so many of you I want to say goodbye and thank you to before I leave. If you would like one last session, please email me to set something up.

(Thank you Erin Campbell Photography for this beautiful image from my own family session. Erin is an amazing, magical person, a wonderful photographer, and someone I highly recommend if you find yourself in need. )

The Red Wall

What a year it’s been so far.  I have found change to be sudden and shocking at times.

I made the decision to downsize after realizing that the market is shrinking, and the supply of photographers is growing.  I love having my studio space, but I definitely didn’t need all the space I have.  My neighbor a few doors down, Rhonda’s Framing has packed her bags and moved into the space with me, and we are happily enjoying a new creative vibe as we prepare to work beside each other in such complementary businesses.

Having a room mate is an awesome opportunity for me.  I am really enjoying the camaraderie and friendship of this shared space. Rhonda is a gifted artist with great vision and committment to excellence in product and customer service.  We are both excited to see how she can help my clients get their images up on their walls as stunning pieces of family art.  We have big dreams to create a place where art is exciting, and inspiring!  Please come down and see our new space if you are in the area.

While I was reshuffling, downsizing, and tossing a great amount of stuff that had accumulated over the years, I became obsessed with making a space of my own in this new area.  For three days I agonized over putting red paint on a wall.  Logically I understand that paint can be changed, but to commit to such a bold and fearsome colour really stopped me in my tracks.  I went into the hardware store three times to confirm the colour and ask questions.  When I finally walked out with 2 cans of what can only be described as blood red paint, I was excited to make my space personal.

The studio now has a smaller dedicated shooting space, as well as a cozy meeting area.  I’m surprised at how much I like my new space.  This year has been about making changes in life and in business to reflect my personality and goals.  I am defining who I am as a person, an artist and an individual.   I realize that I love bright colour, and making noise, and standing out.  I like exploring the emotional content of relationships, and that is what my work is about.  This bold red colour will remind me every day that my life is about love and joy, and if i remember who I am in every moment, I will never be very far from my dreams and goals.

If you want to celebrate the real emotions in your relationships, and see for yourself how beautiful your love is, give me a call.  You are exactly the kind of client I am excited to work with.

 

 

 

My Crying Ladies Pt. 1

 

Crying ladies have been teaching me so much about pain and love.

It started with me crying.   I even made a video of the images. At first it was really disconcerting, to show a part of myself that was so raw and unpleasant.  Soon, it became liberating.  It was a very unusual vantage point of life, and one that I found I enjoyed a great deal.  ‘Cry, Baby.’ became a bit of an anthem for me.  Sometimes in an embarrassing way, which now makes me smile a bit.

There was a part of me that saw how much pain I was experiencing without really causing any real alarm bells to go off.  I was having a spiritual emergency, and it was tricky to contain.  I was curious what it looked like from the outside.

I learned to trigger my PTSD emotional flashbacks, because i was curiously attracted to the intensity of the feelings.  I wanted to see for myself what was happening.  For nearly an hour after I shot the episode, I couldn’t look at these photos.  I paced nervously.   I knew whatever I captured was important to me, but I didn’t know why.  I was also worried that they would be out of focus, which they all were.  I was devastated that my first real art experiment was a complete failure.

Failure was feedback.  I could not be both the observer and observed in this situation. I asked my friend Erin Campbell, to shoot my self portrait.  When I viewed the images of my second attempt, I was moved beyond words.  The images painted a heartbreaking tale of sadness and betrayal.  They were so dear.  They give a face and an expression to a terrible experience.  Seeing her, made her real.

When I shot the 3rd attempt with my friend Jenna Simpson, the story was darker.  The images are frightening, sickening, and painful to look at.  I view them with shock and a feeling of nausea.  This child was not okay after that.

The complete release of so many complicated feelings inside of me has done wonders for my real self to emerge unscathed. There has been so many layers and levels of healing, and it all began with the crying, baby.   I have found peace of mind and happiness of heart because I learned the value of crying, and more importantly, acknowledging pain.

Pain and distress is as much as aspect of our experience as love and happiness.  Sometimes we only honor one aspect of ourselves, while pretending, or avoiding the aspects that give us pain.   Turning our attention to our lesser-loved, and more troubling feelings gives us access to parts of ourselves that need to be heard, held and helped. Sadness can connect us to the truth of our pain, the honour of our experiences, and the ability to move past it to something better.

I wanted to know if other people would experiment with their sadness, and see if they could make some progress with their own pain.  Some thought it would be difficult to cry for no reason, but once we got down to it, the tears often started on the interview couch.  I was not surprised to find out that everyone had something to cry about.

There were aching, soulful sobs, and tight, angry tears, and sad lonely tears of things long ago left behind.  I shot 20 women, and each story is unique.  The tears are easy to spot, but are hard to look at sometimes.

People have asked why I am working on something so sad and depressing, but I think they have it all wrong.  I see pain as the doorway that eventually leads us toward joy.  I want to celebrate the sadness that gives us release from pain.   It is the only time we allow ourselves to express the emotions that are difficult to see.  I have found that looking realistically at pain is the first step to finding happiness again.

The subjects I have spoken to recently report an increase in personal happiness since our project.  That is not to say that it’s causal, but it is at least coincidental.

This experience has allowed me to connect personally with things that used to be ideas.  Areas of expertise that no person wants to claim.

Every single one of us has some areas of expertise that no one wants to claim.  We don’t claim it out of shame, or guilt, or anger, or whatever other emotions fit the bill.   These women trusted the process and let go.  They unshackled themselves from the bondage of their own fear that someone might see them as vulnerable.

I can’t explain what happens when you see yourself in a way you didn’t expect.  Or when you find your face looks fierce and proud when you thought it would look weak. What a pleasant and grateful truth to see a warrior in the mirror, and not a mouse.

In tears I found bravery and strength, and a community of women (and men) who aren’t afraid of looking at their sadness as the first step on their journey to recovering their happiness.

I’m not sure what I want to do with my crying ladies.  They are too beautiful to be contained to a blog post.  This project consumed my thoughts during a very difficult and chaotic time.  It kept me grounded to an idea, and helped me move through my own process using art.  For now, my beautiful ladies are in the gestational space of my imagination, until I can best figure out how to share them.

My crying ladies Pt 2

Photographing sadness means you have to get pretty ‘real’ with yourself.  Embracing my authentic self has not been without some serious misunderstandings along the way.  I have had some very humorous experiences that are too embarrassing to note right now, but hopefully I will feel like sharing some day.  Redefining the relationships in my life has been the greatest gift.  I am a better parent, a more fulfilled person and I have joy every day and no stress.  In the interest of being ‘real’, it’s possible that I am delusional, and I suppose that will become evident in time, if I am.  However, even if I’m delusional, it’s pretty great, so  I’ll just keep on riding it out while I wait for the verdict to come in.  So far, the unexpected result of exploring sadness has been discovering real freedom.

The value of this artistic project and the process I had while doing it has so many benefits in my life now.  I often think of new and interesting relationships between ideas because of the work I discovered on this journey.  I don’t think there is enough time to explore all the ideas in my head, but that’s okay because it would take hundreds of years and millions of dollars.  That makes me smile.

I have so much to say to the people who trusted me enough to do this project with me, and I have to have it written somewhere, because it’s really important to me.

Dear Crying Ladies,

Your complete honesty inspired and amazed me.

It was so easy for me to do this process for myself as a self-portrait.   I was alone.  It’s easy to be brave when you are alone.  I sing in the shower, but I don’t sing in public.  I wish I could, but I don’t. When Erin shot my self portrait, I had already done a trial and knew what to expect.

You stepped into my creative space, without question, and with few instructions.  You allowed me to observe you do something that people don’t let anyone see them do. 

You were so brave to do that!  Do you know how hard that is to do?!  Seriously, you are amazing.

There is nothing in this world you can’t face if you think about it.  When you are scared, remind yourself that you are emotionally brave, and that is the heart of all bravery.  I honor your bravery, and I thank you for your trust.  You have taught me that without trust between observer and observed, there is never anything authentic. There cannot be.   You showed me the value and responsibility of great trust.

xoxo

PS.  I hope all of your dreams come true

There are times when I consider whether the crying ladies has scared away all of my clients.  It’s possible.  Or maybe the universe has a way of making sure you don’t have to work much when you are in a great deal of pain. The fallout is that I’ve been authentic to myself for too long now to go back to the way I was.

The big changes in business are that I am working less, and loving more of what I do.  I have eliminated newborns in my studio business.   The only imagery I will be doing of newborns will be in their parents arms from now on.   I feel like babies are very sensitive these days, and they want to be with the people they energetically know and trust.  I don’t mind stepping into that environment, but I prefer not to alter the environment to suit the photographs.

I have been really energized and happy working with children lately.  I feel strongly attracted to their happiness and sense of fun.

Also I will blog further about this, but I did an engagement session where the couple had selected a really interesting look.  I noticed that it really inspired my creative story teller, and I kept ‘seeing’ the couple as other archetypal couples or characters.  It was so much fun.

The point of this rambling post, is that I feel differently about work than I used to.  I want to spend more time with people who want to show how they ‘feel’ in photographs.  The crying ladies showed me how to photograph a soul.

 

 

Beauty In The Breakdown

I’ve been working on a very personal project lately.  It has kept  me up at night.  It has been living in my heart and my head ever since it was conceived, during the darkest days that I can remember.

It has been gestating every day since, growing and changing at an alarming rate of speed.  It’s taken on a life of its own in my heart and in my soul.  As far as ‘babies’ go, it’s not as easy to love as most, but it has its own beautiful appeal.   It has shown me the value of being whole hearted, vulnerable, and willing to take a risk, and it has made me see the lesson in embracing emotion.

We learn early on that some emotions are accepted, and even encouraged.  Emotions like sadness, pain and grief are relegated to private rooms, and hidden places, or often, not at all.

My own journey has allowed me to see the true gifts of feeling emotion and looking at pain honestly and in finding the gifts that feeling gives me.

This brings me to ‘Beauty In The Breakdown’, my personal project about allowing myself to feel the emotions that I have always suppressed.  I have seen first hand that the one thing I fear that others would see, is not nearly as terrible as I imagined.  In fact, those images are some of the ones that are most dear to me in life.

This project has also allowed me to draw kindred souls to me.

These beautiful women answered a call to action, and they did it with blind faith.  I am humbled and honoured that they put their fear aside, and stepped in front of my lens, and allowed me to witness the raw beauty of their pain.  I can’t tell you the power of connecting with the beautiful emotion of another person for no other reason than to share the experience.  I honour the authentic vulnerability laid bare for me to witness.  These images of real feelings are more meaningful to me than any smiling photograph could ever be, and as it turns out, they are achingly beautiful in their realness.

Without exception, the tears for these sessions started in the lobby, and often within moments.   What I have learned, is that people aren’t at all afraid to cry, if they are given the support and encouragement to do so.  Crying isn’t weakness.  Crying is strength.  No one gets to the other side of the pain river without losing some tears, and as we journey toward the resolution, our travels become easier.

I’ve made some big decisions about the future, and some are making me feel some fear.  I am jumping off my indecision and heading toward my future, as uncertain as it may be to me right now.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

If you think you might benefit from volunteering to be a part of my project, please contact me.

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