Some of my clients are quite surprised when we start the practical section of our training days. They bound outside, camera in hand, eager to fire off shot after shot, improve their skills and get snap-happy.
But what I actually ask them to do is… Stop.
And then – when they are fully present; fully connected to the beauty and magic of life around them – I ask them to pick up their camera.
You see, for me, photography is not only my business, it’s also my spiritual practice; it allows me to let go of the to-do lists, stresses and anxieties of everyday life and simply… be.
We all know how it feels to be in flow – that gorgeous state when you are fully engaged in what you’re doing, and everything seems to be happening magically, effortlessly, flowing from one state to the next.
And flow is where photography takes me; it is, in a way, my meditation practice.
When I first started out, I’d quickly get frustrated with my camera, wondering why the images in my head just didn’t seem to transpose onto the finished images.
I’d compare myself to other photographers, and feel helplessly, hopelessly, inferior.
I’d flip endlessly from style to style, imitating one person and then the next… inconsistently shooting whatever I could find with no sense of depth or purpose.
And then, one day, it all changed.
Sighing in frustration at my viewfinder, I looked up at the dawn vista I was trying to photograph.
A quietness stole over me. A stillness.
I let the camera swing down to my side, and I just looked with my eyes.
I gazed upon the scene and a flower I was standing near – examining it closely from every angle, relishing its delicate shape and texture, delighting in the way the sun caught the edges of the petals.
I breathed deeply, smelling the fresh gorse springing back from an earlier rain, and the wet earth.
I felt the rising sun warm on my face, and the wind tugging gently at my hair.
For that moment in time, I felt suspended, connected, and irrevocably alive.
Photography has never been the same since.
Eventually, I found a way to describe this feeling to others, and it became the cornerstone of my business and life philosophy – Eyes Heart Lens.
Roughly translated, it means that at first, I look and really SEE with my eyes. Then I open my heart to the energy and magic of what is going on around me. And only when I’m fully engaged, I raise the camera to my eye.
Since I’ve begun working in this fashion, not only has my work improved dramatically, but my life has also become calmer, more centred, grounded.
I know that there will be at least a few minutes every day where I will let go of the ‘head’ part of me, and embrace the ‘heart’ part instead. In times of turmoil, that has proved extremely comforting.
The last year has provied one of the toughest of my life – yet photography has been my escape route through it all. When things became too much, I took myself to the nearest park and allowed the simple process of focussing mind, body and hands on a single beautiful object to soothe me. When I began to doubt the presence of magic in the world, all I had to do was look back at some of my favourite images to reassure myself. And when I was too sad to work, my images bought me financial support and relief.
I can’t imagine being without photography now – it’s an intrinsic part of who I am, and regardless of what happens in my life or business, it’ll always be with me.
Recently, I’ve begun to teach others this amazing craft, and the results have been astounding – both for my clients and myself. There is nothing I love more than seeing the incredulous look on people’s faces as they see the incredible photos they’ve just taken after just a few hours together!
So I urge you – if you have a camera lurking somewhere in a drawer that you haven’t used for ages – unleash it.
Go outside. Breathe in the air, the grass, the earth. Look with your whole heart at this magnificent world around you. And dare to believe you deserve it all and more.
If you’d like to join me to learn more about photography, it would be my pleasure to welcome you to our fun, friendly community!
Each week, we’ll be journeying deeper into this wonderful world together and building our core understanding.
By the end of the course, you’ll be creating amazing images, have total confidence in handling your camera, and be part of an awesome new group of Lens Friends!
If you’d like more information, please check out the course page and sign up here: http://michellewildman.co.uk/make-friends-with-the-lens/
‘Til next time,