Monday, March 15, 2010

Moving (and Paying) It Forward

It's been so long since I last posted on this blog. More than 15 months, in fact. A few weeks ago, someone even asked me if he could take over this domain. And I immediately thought...well, I've still got stories to tell! Just because this blog has been dead doesn't mean there haven't been stories and thoughts running through my mind.

2009 was really a year of transition as far as I'm concerned. Figuring things out. Making (sometimes) tough decisions.

2010 so far has been a year of movement. Moving forward based on decisions made. And Paying It Forward to others who may benefit from my experiences and decisions.

Perhaps the biggest decision of last year was one related to my photography. Photography has been a huge part of my life for a number of years, and in the past couple of years it has perhaps been more a part of my life than either me or my family would like. The number of weddings I photographed and the time spent dealing with a bustling business really added up to a lot. Too much.

So I'm no longer booking any more wedding photography.

No more getting up at 6am and returning at 1am. No more missing my daughter's ENTIRE day. No more leaving her sleeping and returning to her sleeping.

And while I thought it would be tough to step away from the photography that I love, it's been so utterly and surprisingly easy. It's been a huge load off my chest. I feel like I can breathe again.

I feel like I can spend a day with my family just...doing...nothing. Or maybe go fly kite. We did that a couple of weekends ago. Or draw chalk on the sidewalk with my daughter. I did that yesterday. Or plant an herb & vegetable garden. I did that tonight.

Amazing, huh? It's the simplest things that mean so much.

And believe me, this decision was simple. And it has meant everything.

So what of my photography?

In many ways, I feel like stepping away from weddings has really let me mind wander and find creative images. I'm still doing professional photography...children, families, and couples, but avoiding all day affairs like Indian weddings really lets me concentrate my creative efforts in the span of a few hours and spend more time away from photography thinking about new ways to use my equipment. I'll avoid the technical stuff and just say that the engagement portraits I did yesterday felt so refreshing because I spent the last 2 months photographing things completely different: cupcakes, sunsets, fog, oak trees, mustard blooms, rain, wet streets. It's not as if this is the first couple I've photographed in months, but I really felt like all that other type of photography helped me to actually focus on this couple is such different ways.

What's more, now that I've stepped away from the weekly schedule of spending all weekend at weddings, I've realized just how much I've learned from photographers around me (in real life and virtually). So I've decided that this is the time to pay it forward. The people I've learned from would have no expectation of being paid back. I know they would prefer that I pay it forward to others who may learn and benefit from the same types of things.

So I'm trying to take a lead with a group of photographers. Telling them my "secrets" of people photography. I set up a wiki to learn about photography last month. I lead a free portrait workshop yesterday. I don't know what knowledge I'll impart next week, but I know it'll be my way of helping everyone to improve their own photography and to capture their own memories.

11 weeks into this year I know this: This is my time to Pay it Forward. This is my time to Move it Forward. These 3 months have been just the beginning. And there's a lot more yet to come.

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