Finding Only What Matters

In Guest

I’m happy to introduce you to today’s guest, Lindsay Crandall. We first met on Instagram where she charmed me with her beautiful use of light and her willingness to place herself in front of her camera. In fact, she teaches a class on Skillshare called Creative Self Portrait Photography: Going Beyond the Selfie, about one of her favorite types of photographs: faceless portraits. She also has an uncanny ability to pluck captivating moments out of any situation (you’ll see what I mean in a minute!). I know you’ll be just as taken with her work as I am, once you’ve seen her view of the world!

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The beginning of this year brought with it one important question: Do I choose a guiding word or not? Last year, my word was fearless and I jumped in with both feet. Fearless brought me through so much, but also beat me up and left me a little sore. I was hesitant to take on another word.

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Before the calendar turned over, I started examining my life. If I didn’t want a guiding word, what did I want? I thought about my family, my work, my photography, my endless to-do list. I wanted to filter it all down, strip it bare, and figure out where I need to focus. It became clear that I didn’t want a guiding word.

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And yet, one day when I was listening to a podcast, I heard a woman talking about her mantra for the year: Only what matters. It hit me like a punch in the gut. Only what matters. That was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted less, not more. I wanted to focus without the implication that I was going to hustle.

It was easy to apply it to my personal life, to prune away the unessential and focus on what mattered. But when it came to my photography, it proved to be a bit trickier. What really matters to me as a photographer? A pretty picture? Emotional connection? A photograph that will sell well? I had to ask myself what really makes my heart sing. I’ve had to ask myself only what matters.

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So here’s what I’ve learned. I love to play with light. I seek out challenging light and play around until I’ve figured it out. Then I try again. This has proven to be the most rewarding practice in my photography. Sometimes I’m successful, other times I fail. But I’m always intrigued by the light and pushing myself to master it. To me that matters.

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I’m also inspired by bright color. Somewhere along the way, I adopted a deep love for color and it always captivates me. I love colors that are vibrant and rich. I love thinking about the color wheel and the way colors interact with each other. I’m still working through how to incorporate this more intentionally into the photographs I make, but I’m always on the hunt for color.

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The last and perhaps truest thing that matters to me in my photography is that lifting my camera and pressing the shutter is a practice in gratitude. It is a practice of slowing down, seeing my world, and saying thank you. This is especially true when I photograph my loved ones. The intimate moments with my kids, when they think no one is paying attention or when they get very quiet and vulnerable – those are the moments that matter. When we play, when we’re filled with joy, when we are living our wild and wonderful lives – these things matter. I’m grateful for all of it, and for this gift of photography. When I look at the photographs I’ve made, this is what I want to see: a life well lived, people well loved, and a woman who gratefully captured as much of all of it as she could. Because that’s what matters.

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Viewfinders-Lindsay-Crandall-light1Lindsay Crandall is a photographer and writer living in upstate New York. She is half of the daily collaboration at hellotherefriend.com and a contributing photographer with Stocksy United. More often than not, you’ll find her with a book or camera in her hand (and sometimes a glass of red wine). Learn more about her on her website or follow her on Instagram.

4 Comments

  1. Such beautiful images to accompany your wise, thoughtful words.
    Thank you so much for sharing them here today.

  2. Love the mantra “only what matters,” both in life and photography. Thanks so much for these beautiful images and your thoughtful words.

  3. so good to have you sharing with us, Lindsay.
    your gentle intention is surely felt in your beautiful images…

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