A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to attend a local photography workshop led by a friend of mine…a friend to whom I’ll introduce you later this month (stay tuned!). It was a workshop in expressive photography and mindfulness. In many ways, I knew it was right up my alley; in other ways, I felt nervous and out of my element.
I’m accustomed to having time to go through my work slowly, to reflect and curate. Attending a workshop meant shooting and sharing with immediacy. I knew I’d enjoy the workshop material; it was thinking about doing the work within a prescribed time that caused discomfort. What if nothing came to me? What if my shots were terrible? My inner critic was hard at work before the workshop began.
I knew that stepping outside my comfort zone was good; I knew the experience would stretch my creative muscles. My friend and I had exchanged emails a few days prior to the workshop. The nerves, she and I agreed, were a good sign. In discomfort, there’s often good (and necessary) work to be done.
Looking through the photographs I made that day, I feel how deeply personal the work was. And that isn’t really a surprise. And yet it is.
I admittedly get stuck in my head (often), and love that photography helps me shift from linear thinking into feeling, experiencing, being. But sometimes I think more than is necessary, even with camera in hand. Part of my practice is to assess continually what I am feeling.
Working through the workshop assignments, it was hard sometimes not to think about the resulting composition. I often had an idea of what I thought I wanted or needed to shoot. But working through each of our assignments that afternoon, I was keenly aware when I shifted from the thinking to the feeling. I knew when I had the shot on the outside (so to speak) that reflected the story on the inside.
Over half of my shots were ones in which I turned the camera on self. It was as if I needed to consider deliberately myself for myself on that particular afternoon. That was not planned or thought out; that was not a suggestion as part of the workshop. It was something I felt, quite strongly. I was able to get out of my head and out of my own way…which, interestingly enough, meant putting myself quite literally in the way (in the frame).
I’m grateful for my friend who provided the safe space of her wonderful workshop. I’m grateful for the other women who opened themselves to that shared experience. I’m grateful for my strength that day in telling my inner critic no, thank you and then for getting (in and) out of my own way. There was good (and necessary) work done.
Are you stretching your creative muscles these days? Are you stepping outside your comfort zone?
Share with us in the comments below; we’d love to hear.