It’s taken me a very long time to get to these photos: to find my way back to taking a notion of a visual possibility; tossing it about in my head for a while; making the time to wander and find the scenes that might illustrate my idea; getting around to sending off the film, and once the scans were returned, considering the images every so often for months before deciding I finally felt ready to share a few of them here – or anywhere – with anyone. A new project is a tender thing, and this fresh growth is more tender than most because I’ve grown it out of long-fallow creative soil.
I’m not really interested in talking about the photos, or explaining them, which may seem a bit contrary for a photo blog. What I am prepared to discuss is how I arrived at them.
I’ve gone through a pretty punishing run of years, as have so many of us. Mine were particularly draining first emotionally, and then physically. One day, after I’d had my fill of a long overdue period of rest, I had to confront that truth that I felt pretty deadened inside. Many kind, caring people suggested I make some pictures to get back to myself, but that was a nonstarter for me. I simply had no creative juice. I did, however, feel compelled to move.
So I began walking, and as I racked up steps, if I wasn’t listening to an audio book, I found myself repeatedly muttering the mantra, “first body, then soul.” Where it came from, I’ve no idea. I didn’t really even know what it meant for me at first. In time, I came to realize, it was me keeping faith with myself, that my creative pilot light would return eventually. I just had to, for the first time in a long time, place care of my body first.
I walked almost every evening for a year, and I addressed a constellation medical issues with the kind of diligence I’d have taken were I someone in my care, as, of course I am, but I’d spent a few decades overlooking that patently obvious fact and leaving things go at good enough rather than best possible resolution. Mothers, daughters, wives, you know. This is so often the case.
When my health gains from walking plateaued about a year ago, I began lifting weights. Pushing myself harder than I would have thought possible a few times a week has returned strength, resilience and equilibrium well beyond the physical.
Some time last fall I felt I needed to start looking again. I began carrying a camera more often. Frequently I took no photos, but I was beginning to see. Laura, probably sensing my need for a kickstart, got me shooting a project with her, which helped loosen my rusty inner gears a bit more.
Purposeful creative actions became additive, and I’m not sure exactly when, but some time late last winter or early spring I got a flash of an idea for a project I wanted to shoot, the first images of which you see here.
It arrived like a gift out of the blue. But it was a long time coming. Ultimately, it was a gift I’d given myself over the course of a few years by paying attention to my body, taking care of myself, putting one foot in front of the other, and listening closely for the first, little, ready whisper of my soul.
Take good care and keep your eyes wide open,