There are these ties that bind us to our outside world. Sometimes they’re tangible. Like a phone call from a friend or an unexpected visit from a family member. All straight-forward events, rather predictable. But there are other bonds, less obvious ones, connecting us in an invisible web of community, stretching far from our homes. Take this one for example. You are more than likely reading this blog because of your love of photography. But if you’re like me, you return again and again for the special glimpses we get into one another’s lives through the daily posts and the various theme groups…and of course the thrill and chance of having your photo featured.
But I’ve found that there’s something more, something bigger, something exciting that takes place when we go from just visiting a group anonymously to engaging with it fully. When we take one little step in its direction, magic begins to happen. You see, I’ve found that by reaching out, even when it seemed uncomfortable or strange or weird, that my world expanded, growing in unimaginable directions. It certainly didn’t happen overnight, but slowly, I’ve found myself with a new circle of friends, female photography friends, which as we all know, aren’t necessarily living down the street. And as my circle increased, something unexpected happened, I found my confidence in my photography grew stronger, my focus deepened, and I found a calm within myself that hadn’t existed before. The energy we shared collectively seemed to augment one another’s skills. And sometimes, someone who’d seemed unapproachable to me, because they were further along in a journey I wished to emulate, would be willing to respond if I took the time to reach out to them.
Over the past year, I’ve been able to shift my community out of cyberspace and into face-to-face encounters with these incredible women. From Frankfurt, Germany to Monterey, CA from to New York City to my hometown of Philadelphia, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend several meetups that a year ago I could never have imagined. I’ve gone from meeting these women in person to shoving up against one another while barefoot on the beach to get just the right shot…from where we stood! But that’s just what has happened. I felt honored and delighted at my reception, and a little amazed at how it all unfolded. And all because I reached out, taking one, little tippy-toe step at a time.
How about you? Have you felt the magic of community? What relationships and bonds have you formed lately? Today, share with us your images of connection.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
These words, shared in November 2011, are as true today as they were then. Four years later, my photography community continues to grow into a more extensive network of friends, colleagues and contacts, that I’m honored to have as part of my world. My career is slowly flourishing into something deeper and longer lasting, however sporadic it might feel in the moment, and it all started with daily inspiration from the Shutter Sisters, whispering in my ear, reminding me that something bigger was to come. For that awakening, I am forever grateful.
Outside of creating an incredible community that has blossomed into friendships all over the globe and transformed into an amazing Collective, Tracey Clark and her “Sisters” (and Camera Men too) reminded us that our lives are beautiful exactly as they are, and are truly a subject as worthy of our cameras as any other. With the Collective coming to a close this month, I’d like to thank you ladies (and gentlemen) for the introductions, the inspiration and the courage to call myself a photographer. Your message and words taught me to shoot from the heart.
Holly ~ Soupatraveler
2012 Shutter Sisters Oasis, Angie:Because this truly was the most epic flickr meetup. Ever. Connections, community, love. – Kirstin:
2013 San Francisco Shutter Sisters Meetup, Vanessa:
2012 Shutter Sisters Oasis, Holly:
2012 Tofino, Canada Meetup, Meghan:2011 NYC Meetup, Christy:
2011 Camp Shutter Sisters, Kim: