Welcome to the Images Through The Door Blog. I started this blog with the thoughts of sharing some thoughts and musings, as well as information and data on upcoming shows, or tips about photography and where I have been lately. I welcome your comments and thoughts. Happy reading!
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As photographers, we are frequently asked the question - how do you define yourself (your work)? We are constantly looking for our view, our voice, our framework to find our target market or audience. When I moved into photography, it was difficult for me, when asked what I do, to answer that I am a photographer. I felt strange saying those words. Even though my journey is still ongoing, and my business is in the beginning stages, I have a hard time saying I am a photographer. I thought about this many times, and I think perhaps we are too strict with how we define ourselves. We restrict ourselves and put our life into a box that says photographer or doctor or business person, or Mother, or mail carrier, or whatever it is we do.
But does what we DO define WHO we are?
We are so much more than that, and our lives are full of other things than our work (at least for many of us). We are a conglomerate of thoughts, feelings, senses. Our lives change day by day, moment by moment; we move and flow. What is do is only a small part of what makes us, well US!
Who we are is so much more important - everyone of us can be a light in the darkness, a friend to someone suffering or lonely, a giver of a smile or a kind word to each person we see; these acts make up our "who", and each kindness makes a ripple in the pond that spreads outward to touch others. This is how to define our lives - this is how to find balance and peace. This is how to define who we TRULY are.
"May I be a guard for those who need protection; a guide for those on the path; a boat, a raft, a bridge for those to cross the flood; may I be a lamp in the darkness; a resting place for the weary; a healing medicine for all who are sick. For as long as Earth and sky endure, may I assist until all living things are awakened" The Dalai Lama
I recently read an anecdote that went like this:
"If you can sit quietly after difficult news; if in financial downturns you remain perfectly calm; if you can see your neighbors travel to fantastic places without a twinge of jealousy; if you can happily eat whatever is put on your plate; if you can fall asleep after a day of running around without a drink or a pill; if you can always find contentment just where you are: you are probably a dog."
It make me laugh at first, then think this really is a true statement - and could apply to cats as well, with the exception of eating whatever is put on their plates as I know they can sometimes be finicky. I considered the thought behind this; perhaps we all need to practice being like the dog. Generally speaking, of course, dogs seem to be alive in the present moment nearly all the time. They are a great and mysterious paradox - they can experience pain and suffering and still find joy in things, no matter how small. You can see this if you go to an animal shelter, or if you have ever rescued or fostered a dog or cat. These are the ones who love the most deeply, who are our constant companions, and closest "friends".
Can we be like the dog? It takes a lot of practice, to be sure. We need to learn to be patient - with ourselves and others; and to be calm in the present moment, even in times of difficulty and challenge. Everyone on this earth faces joy, sorrow, happiness, loss. We have that common humanity; yet we can all be like the dog - transcending those difficulties to see life's joys. Find joy in everyday things, be in the present, experience contentment just where you are - be like the dog (cat, bird, hamster, etc.). I think they just might have it right.
I have been made somewhat more aware lately of my own feelings about our human condition - first by my husband watching the miniseries of "Hatfields & McCoys", and most recently by the senseless (is there any other?) shooting in the Seattle area local coffee shop. In both events, people lost their lives, families lost someone close to them. We as humans can so easily be caught and swept up in passions, anger, revenge - and yet, these are not our whole, they are like shadows we can dispel if we work to do so.
Bad events are like the stone in the water - evident, but can be swept away by a larger tide of goodness that we hear so little about. Yes, bad things happen, but good things happen as well - would it not serve humanity better to focus on these - to highlight the wonderful generosity and beneficence of the human spirit?
Do we allow ourselves to be swept away by negativity or do we simply let those thoughts flow over us without being caught up in them, knowing we are part of a larger, greater good. Do we embrace this goodness every day? Do we consider our connection with our world, and by doing so, take a gentler path with our own life and the lives of others? We can and should, for the light of compassion and love can remove shadows of darkness. We must live the greater life, and do the greater good.
The only way in which one can make endurable man's inhumanity to man, and man's destruction of his own environment, is to exemplify in your own lives man's humanity to man and man's reverence for the place in which he lives. - Alan Paton
This past week, I had the wonderful good fortune to make a short trip to the Gulf Islands of British Columbia with two other photographers to shoot some incredible coastline and islands. We were up early to get sunrise, and out late for sunsets, and in between, shared a lot of fun and laughter. We talked about photography, life, food, travel, and life in general. We encouraged each other, and shared our joys and frustrations of being working photographers each with a very different view, and the challenges of how to be noticed in the sea of others.
One thing that struck me during the weekend (besides the sheer beauty of the surroundings) was that when we truly listen, we learn so much. It's so easy in today's world of so much noise to not focus when someone talks with you. The things you have to do, the next thought you have, what you are going to say next - all these things prevent us from really being present in that moment. And you only get one chance to be in that moment, because it is fleeting, and passing by. You have to work to be fully there - to listen completely and to just let all those other things flow past without being caught up in them. You need to be like the water in the image - still, quiet, peaceful and there.
There are so many moments that are lost to us that we cannot recover. We cannot know how we touch someone else, no matter how brief. And this makes being present so much more crucial. So, the next time you have an encounter, with friends, family, lovers, spouses, children, or even the clerk at the grocery store - be present in the moment fully. Be like the water. You might be surprised how good it feels.