As I mentioned, I’ve chosen a word for 2011: OPEN. For March’s One Little Word class assignment Ali Edwards challenged us to turn our words to action. She asked us to look at what we planned to invite into our lives with our word and to pick one little thing — one little action that would make our word alive during the month.
I think I’ve mentioned that I pretty much hibernated for all of February. I don’t know if it was the shock of being back in Winter after a month in the African sun or if I was suffering from a let down from being back at home after the trip. In any event, other than for work and necessary errands, I hardly left the house. With Spring finally on the way I decided it was time to be proactive in inviting fresh air into my life and I committed to take my camera out for a walk in the neighbourhood. Today.
Also, in the spirit of inviting new experiences and inspiration into my life, I signed up for Camp Shutter Sisters. When I first heard that the amazing Shutter Sisters were organizing a 3-day photo camp on the California coast I was both inspired and intimidated. I’ve been a huge fan of the Shutter Sisters for ages. I’m consistently inspired by their book Expressive Photography, not to mention their website. Their Flickr forum is chock full of beautiful photographs taken by others that they’ve inspired. All in all, I must admit that my first thought upon reading about the camp was “Amazing” and my second thought was “Am I good enough?” Am I good enough to spend 3 days among these amazing photographers? I’m new at this. My skills, my eye, are in the infancy stages of development. I would be one of 70 women at camp and the other 69 are likely to be super-talented photographers whose work I admire and aspire to. I was terrified of showing myself up as a rank amateur, of looking and feeling like I don’t belong.
Now, let me say emphatically that these sentiments had NOTHING to do with the Shutter Sisters or even the other people that I expected to be at camp. From everything I’ve seen, the Shutter Sisters are about inspiring and celebrating photography and women who love it. No, this was all about ME. About my need to fit in, to get along, to be accepted and liked. It’s pathological, this. All my life this ridiculous need has had me twisting myself into knots to make myself the best and most interesting — the most “fit-in-able” version of me that I can. In every situation. I’ve only recently realized how exhausting it is. And how un-rewarding, because even if I’m adored by everyone how can I feel good about it if the person they like is some slightly-off-the-mark version of me that has been trotted out for just that purpose? Doesn’t that just reinforce for myself that the authentic me isn’t quite good enough? Well, yes. Yes it does.
I’ve been thinking a lot about authenticity lately. I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. She talks about authenticity as a practice, rather than a state of being. She advises practicing authenticity by choosing discomfort over resentment. That is, in the moment that you want to sell yourself out, to, as she says “skate” in order to fit in or conform to what’s expected of you, choose instead to be true to yourself and accepting of the discomfort that may come to that. Because the alternative creates resentment within yourself.
Bringing it all back to me and Camp Shutter sisters. The following wisdom comes from my best friend Allison, who has been dropping wisdom bombs on me all month, which is only one of the reasons that I love her.
Sounds like a great opportunity for artistic growth. I’m certain more experienced photographers would have an appreciation for an enthusiastic rookie looking to find her way behind the lens…if you can handle being a good little rookie and not getting frustrated, that is 😉
So, to wrap up this very LONG post, I was one of the lucky women to get a spot at camp (which sold out in 18 minutes!). I’ll be practicing authenticity, then and now, and I’ll be shooting every chance I get between now and then.
And if anyone is still reading at this point, it is definitely time for a little levity. Here are a couple of other photos I took this week. The Picture Inspiration prompt this week was “How Things Stack Up” so I had fun with a bunch of boxes I had lying around.