Photography gives us the ability to take moments that are indelibly etched into our memory and make beautiful art of those moments that we can choose to share with the world or keep for ourselves. It is the ultimate voice of self-expression. It is a way of standing up in this ever-changing world and saying, “This is what I see when I look at you.”
I have always maintained that I never sought out photography, it found me. I bought my first DSLR a few months after losing my first daughter. I had just taken a six-month leave of absence from my master’s program in psychology. I was in a very dark place. I needed something to force myself to get out and look for beauty in the world again. I had no idea how to use a DSLR or process images. I just needed to get out and create, so that is what I did.
I plunged into a world that looked far beyond the surface. One that emphasized the way light fell upon the leaves and the way it penetrated the irises of one’s eyes. The way frost collected itself upon branches and window panes as if telling stories of its adventures. The way the wind blew one’s hair or carried away dandelion seeds to faraway places. One that directed me to the mysteries that lie beyond a fog enveloped forest and the magic of light trying to break through a misty morning.
I found myself searching out beauty and finding it everywhere I looked. I would go for long walks just to delight in what nature had to offer that day. Still, something was missing. I could not quite place what it was. I had found so much beauty in the world, just as I had hoped, but I was not eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to upload the tangible proof of my adventures. Photos remained on the cards for long periods of time. When I finally did upload them, there they sat, unmoved.
It was not until I gave birth to my second daughter that I found my creative passion. There it was. Fragility. Vulnerability. Motherhood. My children. My soul. The sorrow I carried relinquished itself to this beautiful new life. It was peaceful and calm. Soon, the contented, sleepy newborn days gave way to busy toddler days and life gradually got more hectic. Over the years, there has been an abundance of both laughter and tears. Each new milestone has brought with it a sense of elation and a sense of sadness as I have grieved the loss of each passing stage while simultaneously embracing the joy of experiencing the next. Through it all, I have spent these years rocking little ones to sleep… Feeling the rise and fall of each peaceful breath whilst kissing their dewy foreheads and perfectly pouting lips and running my free hand through their wisps of hair. All the while, I have been wishing I could pause time as life seems to pass by faster than I can take it all in. I have been blessed enough to have captured these fleeting moments. Every image is a documentation of the world as I see it, rose-coloured glasses or not. Of all of the photos I have taken, there is a special place in my heart for the images of my sleeping babies. This is where I go when I need time to stand still. This is my peace. These images serve as a reminder that my children will make anywhere home so long as I am there with them. They will peacefully sleep in forests under the golden light and on beaches listening to the waves hit the shore. They will sleep in gardens and grassy fields. They will fall asleep anywhere in the world, so long as they can do so in the comfort of my arms. These are my memories. This is my art.
There are so many angles of photography and I love them all. I relate to gritty, raw, emotive documentary style photography. It draws me in. It captivates me. I love surreal, fantasy-based photography that can take me to another world. I love seductive compositions. I love journalistic photography that is accompanied by narratives. I love landscape photography and astro photography. I love my camera phone photos of my kids in their ducky pyjamas, diaper wedgies (a personal fave), dirty faces, and mismatched shoes. Photography carries different meanings and contexts for different people. Art and its creation is different for everyone. When I want to create art, I enjoy blurring the lines between reality as I live it and the reality I have created through my world view. Though babies and children may not always seem glamorous on the surface, there is an undeniable inherent beauty they bring to the world.
Art is born from inspiration. Without inspiration and passion, photography remains stagnant and flat. It needs a life force to be impactful and that life force is within you. All photographers have something that drives them and it has nothing to do with money. If you deviate from what you love to do what sells, your art loses its lustre.
What is photography to you?