I flew to Phoenix Arizona on Labor Day, a day ahead of the 2018 Portrait Masters Conference. Beside the amazing conference (more on that in a moment), I got to spend a little time with some local friends plus have my very own portrait session –something I have been wanting to do for a while. One reason is so that I could have beautiful legacy portraits to leave behind when I am gone. Losing my mother and my sister unexpectedly taught me the value of portraits to the ones left behind. Those and the few photos I have of my grandparents and great-grandparents are a priceless treasure to me. It’s not vanity to want to leave something physically tangible for the people who love you and will want to remember you –it’s a loving gesture.
Another reason I did it was so that I can better connect to the experience MY clients have. I haven’t seen my images yet so I will wait to share more about that later but let me just say without yet even seeing my photos, it was worth it. Of that I am sure.
The PM conference itself was beyond my expectations. I have been to many conferences in my life. From business to health related to faith based and I have to say this was one of the best I have ever attended. The energy was palpable and the kindness and generosity of the attendees and staff just blew me away. I made some friends for life there. A true blessing indeed.
From the perspective of a creative personality the whole week was immensely satisfying. We creatives can become very cocooned. We live in our heads a lot of the time so being able to connect and share with other creatives is often exactly what we need but forget to do. We watched, we listened, we laughed and cried, we practiced, we shared, and it was wonderful.
While it’s difficult to pick a favorite presenter I have to say that the opening talk by Platon was certainly the most memorable. His images are spectacular and world famous, but it was his message that was so inspiring. He spoke with humility and humor and much sincerity. He is a respecter of persons and challenges the listener to do the same. He exhorted us to not just use our cameras to take “pretty pictures” but to actually heal society. Yes! Now that is a powerful idea!
What I gained from those four days is yet to be fully uncovered but I hope and trust that the good work begun in me will be seen through to completion. That what I pursue and accomplish is always towards a higher purpose.
Photography is an art form and art has a way of changing you –if you let it. I’m not new to photography. I’ve had a camera in my hand for the better part of the last 35 years but one of the unexpected benefits of doing a 365 project a few years ago was how it changed me. It didn’t just change how I take photographs, it changed how I see the world.
In many ways it’s brought out the child in me. Colors are more vibrant, light and dark more striking. I see ordinary details and I notice the little things. I stop and look much more now because it’s all so interesting. I cannot help but notice how the color of the light changes throughout the day and how it’s different from day to day and season to season. A simple tree in the distance set against a backdrop of a blue sky jumps out at me and I have to remark on how beautifully the sun shines on it. The moon on a dark cold night catches my attention. The rain as it hits the highway intrigues me. A cup of coffee, warm, comforting and full of meaning speaks volumes to my senses.
I think that sometimes we can become jaded by all the images around us in advertising and media. It can be such an assault to our senses that we have to turn it down, turn it off. We stop noticing things as much because we’re so used to them.
Early on in my project I wondered if frequently having a camera in my hand would prevent me from me from being “in the moment”, but what I discovered was that it actually reminded me to really absorb the moment, to capture the feeling of what was going on –not just the technical details of it. As I look back through my photos and it’s almost like being transported. I can get lost there for hours.
Sometimes I hear people say “my life doesn’t look like that –it’s not that beautiful.” Except. . . I believe it is. I believe it is because I believe that the world is beautiful. I believe that life, even with all its pain and difficulty, is beautiful. I believe that life –mine and yours– really does “look like that”.
I also believe you have to learn to see it. You have to notice it. That’s what I mean by the art of noticing. It’s an art because you have to practice it. You have to do it and once you do, once you start, you just might find that a whole new world opens up to you. A beautiful, amazing world.