I’ve been feeling a little bit lost recently. Maybe even a lot lost.
Up until recently, we hadn’t been on an adventure for weeks – the girls have been pretty much refusing to leave the house (other than to go to school of course) and whole weekends were being spent either stuck indoors or simply running essential errands that I hadn’t been able to get done during the week. The dark mornings and evenings were beginning to get to me, even though I quite enjoy feeling all cosy and warm indoors whilst it’s cold and wet outside. I wasn’t feeling inspired to pick up my camera despite knowing where all the delicious pockets of light are in my house. I tried, but I wasn’t happy with anything I captured. My heart just wasn’t in it. I felt frustrated and trapped with the lack of creativity and complete monotony of it all.
A couple of weekends ago I’d had enough. I knew that I had to get us all out of the house. We mapped it out together on the Saturday afternoon, miraculously managing to agree on where to go and what to do. I felt instantly better – having a plan always helps, even if I know that we’ll almost certainly deviate from it in some way or another.
Sunday arrived. We had a quiet morning and headed to our destination – Moseley Old Hall, a National Trust property – after lunch. I have no idea why we’ve not been there before – it’s only about half an hour or so away from us and we discovered that it’s the most beautiful little place. A thick carpet of leaves, a fun woodland walk, a giant treehouse, landscaped gardens and gorgeous, golden, Autumn light all made exploring this new place seem far more exciting than simply ‘going for a walk’. We’ll definitely be heading back there in the Springtime and the Summer months as I’m sure it has something lovely and different to offer in each of the seasons. The husband and I watched the girls play hide and seek with each other, shrieking and yelling and laughing as they ran in and out of the trees, the light streaming in between the trunks and branches and through the leaves.
I took well over a hundred photos in the hour and a half we were there and from the moment I pressed the shutter to capture the very first image I was instantly reminded exactly why I love photography so much. I hadn’t realised until that point that I’d forgotten. There was an immediate and deep need to document those moments of carefree abandon with the girls, to capture their absolute joy, to preserve those memories. It’s such a hard feeling to describe: it’s urgent and slow all at once; simultaneously a strong, almost painful, ache, combined with a sense of coming home; a pull backwards to my core and a push forwards to create. It’s a feeling you can’t ignore and it was precisely the nudge I didn’t even know I’d been needing.
Quietly, but fiercely, my heart woke up and the golden light re-ignited my ‘why’.
I was quiet in the car on the way home, lost in thought. I remembered all the things I love about capturing families. Not just mine – other people’s too. All of their connections. All of their moments. All of their love. All of their real, perfectly imperfect stories. Every single person on the planet has a story and when you become a family your stories get blended and merged and you create a new one together. Someone told me a week or so ago that stories are my ‘thing’ and I think maybe I’ve always known that that’s true, even though I’ve never had anyone actually tell me straight like that. I’ve loved telling stories since I was a little girl. First through drawing, then through writing and now through photography as well.
I love being a storyteller and I love seeing people, really seeing them. It’s all I want to do. Tell stories I mean. These stories… they deserve to be told. They NEED to be told. And people deserve to be seen.
This year I’ve not really told many people’s stories. I let my confidence get knocked. Maybe I haven’t promoted myself enough? Maybe people just don’t like my images? Maybe my images aren’t good enough? That little voice of self doubt starts to creep in and the fateful comparison with other people’s work begins, despite knowing full well that comparison is the thief of joy. Maybe I’m not cut out for this. Maybe I just don’t know enough – there is still SO much I don’t know. Maybe I’m not ready yet. Maybe I’ll never be ready. Maybe I should just give up now to avoid the inevitable dsappointment in the long run…
But my heart knows the way.
That feeling I was trying to describe earlier? That’s how I know. I can’t resist it’s pull. Maybe this season was a necessary pause, a rest in the journey along the stepping stones. Like autumn trees let go of their leaves and hibernate over winter, perhaps I need to do the same.
I’ve been looking back over all the sessions I have done over the last couple of years – the families, the ‘Mama and Me’ sessions, the maternity shoots, the newborns. There aren’t many but there are enough. Enough to remind me that I CAN do this. That I am able to capture those special moments that families want to remember, that there is a space for me amidst all the incredible talent that’s already out there. There is room for us all.
Who knows whether I can turn it into something more than what it currently is? All I know is that I can’t ignore that feeling. I have to answer it. It’s deep within me and I keep coming back to it time and time again. As soon as I have my camera in my hands it feels like I’ve come home and I’m suddenly not lost any more.
Next year I want to tell more people’s stories. One family session a month would be wonderful (just putting that out there as an intention to the Universe). Outdoor family adventure sessions, in-home lifestyle sessions, newborn sessions, maternity sessions, mama and me sessions – I’ll be offering them all. And I’d love to do a travel session whilst we’re down in Cornwall, our happy place.
I’m a firm believer in life teaching us what we need to know, right when we need to know it. These past twelve months have been a lesson in perseverance, in having the courage to follow that feeling in your heart that you just can’t ignore, and in actively taking action rather than sitting and waiting for something to happen. All things I knew already of course but perhaps just needed to be reminded of. We only get one life and it ‘s up to us to decide what we do with it. My heart knows the way and I’m going to be following it’s lead as much as possible from now on.