Yesterday I went photo-walking in the park while my husband took Remy to the playground.
It was a gorgeous day, sunny and mostly clear with pretty streaks of white clouds. The light was fading and everything was bathed in the most gorgeous "golden-hour" light. It was the perfect time to be out taking photographs.
It was chilly for me (in the mid 50s, which seems higher than average), so I wore a coat and a beautiful purple silk scarf that my mother-in-law gave me for my birthday.
When I'm photo-ing, I get down in it. I don't really care what I look like as I go about finding the angles. I'm that person who is crouched over (or sitting, or even sprawling on the ground). There's a big camera in my hands, so it seems obvious what I'm doing, although who can say for sure what other people are thinking. Probably they aren't thinking of me at all.
So, yesterday, as I went off path into the wilder parts of the park (there are still tree limbs needing to be cleaned up after last month's freak snow storm and the ground is wet), I had a momentary flash:
This is what I love doing.
I mean, it seems obvious, right? I take photos because I love doing it. Why else would I bother?
But I've been having all sorts of doubts along the way this year (which seems endemic to the exploration process for me). Nature photography doesn't seem such a lucrative path these days. (Or maybe I'm going about it all wrong.) I struggle with trying to figure out how to best get the work out into the world, and moreover with what work is my best work. (Portraiture seems to be every one else's opinion. Or at least that's what I hear. Weddings are what I seem to be paying the most attention to, but oh my goodness, I am not ready. At all.)
And don't get me wrong: I love taking portraits. I love seeing a person and taking a photo of the beauty I see in them. I do this best off the cuff, I think, not when they are paying attention but when they are clearly not paying attention. Which seems like it would be difficult to do with a paid session. (I don't know, I've never done one.) There are blogs of portrait photographers who do this well, but they're still in the minority, in my opinion.
The work I'm doing that is for me, clearly and utterly for me, is delving into the minutia of the world. The details around me, which are so easily overlooked.
And maybe this is just my personal art. That there could be a difference between my personal art and the art that (eventually) winds up making me money does not seem so strange. (In fact, it seems normal.)
I think my biggest issue is that I want to buck that trend and stay focused on the art that brings me joy and not divide my time.
And I don't know yet how that issue is going to get resolved. That is why I gave myself this year to explore.
And perhaps that is why, when I started pondering next year's word, I choose "believe" so easily.
Yes, believe. It can all happen without struggle, without pain, without division. Does it matter what I'm shooting, as long as I love what I am doing? As long as I choose to love each moment, each step, each possibility?