Tuesday was a big day for me. Five very nice ladies met with me to test out the material for a class I have been dreaming of teaching – ways to use still life photography for personal reflection and journal keeping. Our setting was the amazing art retreat center near Verona – Whispering Woodlands. I learned so much from the participants! They showed me how foreign and confusing the controls on their digital cameras can be, and also how exciting and new the potential of using their everyday possessions would be as they learned more about photography.
I made sure to do the same exercise I challenged my students to try. Before everyone arrived I wandered around taking pictures of things that caught my eye in the cozy, light filled space. Frankly, it is still a mystery to me what makes an image meaningful. I guess it is more about a feeling than visual appearance. This leads me to take a lot of pictures that may not look good to other people. Nonetheless, I continue carving away to find my own voice, even at the risk of repeating myself.
People are drawn to photography for a lot of reasons, but I think everyone who came to the class wants more than anything to have a record of who (and what) they love in their lives. This is an inspiring place to create from. It brings what is most original about us right to the surface – our personal loves and losses. To me, that is what makes it worthwhile to face all the pictures that I don’t like, or all the days that I don’t feel like scratching the surface to find an honest, vulnerable moment to make an image. I am hoping that through my photographs, people will see and know the love I feel for this world, and for them. So in the end, if it is only the people who love me who say they love these images, that will be more than enough.