Last week, Audrey wrote about taking time in her busy days to go through her photos and find her “grounders”. She said her grounders are the images that make her remember “why I choose to pick up my camera in the first place”. She wrote that looking through her images helps her reflect on the beauty gifted her on a daily basis. It resonated with me. Did it resonate with you too?
The vast majority of the photographs I make are rooted in this groundedness, in this effort to connect with my life. There are times when I’m shooting purely for fun; on occasion, I work with clients; but, by and large, my photography is paired with my writing and serves as a mark of gratitude.
I don’t set out to make images of things for which I feel grateful. It’s not that patent an effort. Often, I pick up my camera because I am moved to capture the essence of a moment. It might be the light falling across my desk or the bench at the foot of our stairs. It might be the steam curling from my tea. Maybe it’s the yellowing birch leaves out back. Or our sweet pup lounging on my daughter’s fleece blanket, soaking up the Saturday sun. Making images like this help me sink deeper into the moment.
There are many, many times when I do not pick up the camera, moments when I choose to simply be with whatever is going on (or isn’t going on). There’s a fine line, in my opinion, in using photography as a tool to dig into the present moment and using it as a tool for distraction. Over time, I’ve learned to balance shooting my moments with letting them be, without (photographic) record. I do this by checking in with myself continually. Before clicking the shutter, I ask: What am I feeling? Why do I want to make this photograph? What am I hoping to capture?
This practice of using photography to sink into a moment has helped me become more finely attuned to my life. With my camera, I have learned to pay attention to the things I see and the things I feel. It has become a deeply personal practice for me. It has become a practice that pairs noticing the little bits of life with expressing gratitude for the little bits of life.
Either aspect can be my starting point. There are times when I might feel gratitude for a person or object or experience, and proceed to take the photograph. There are times when I might notice the soft light, take the picture, and then become aware of the gratitude I feel for our home and its pockets of light or the person sitting with me in that light. The two – the noticing of details, the feeling of gratitude – are inextricably linked. The practice is a powerful one.
In a few weeks, I’ll be exploring this practice of attention and gratitude in my free offering: Gratitude Week. I’ve lost track of how many years I’ve run Gratitude Week (five or six?) but it’s a week that fills me with…well, gratitude. I invite you to join me and us. Full details can be found here, but the gist is that we gather in community and celebrate our gratitudes. You can share your photos on Instagram (#GratitudeWeek2017) (don’t forget #viewfindersio !); you can write blog posts and share those by leaving the link in my Gratitude Week post on my personal blog; you can quietly reflect on your gratitudes at home. And…as my gift to you, I offer daily reflections during the week that arrive in your inbox each morning. These Gratitude Notes will be simple reflections on gratitude that prompt deeper thought about the goodness in life. I would love to have you join us. Are you in??