Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever... it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.
~ Aaron Siskind
I have been in love with photography since I got my first camera, a Kodak 110 at the age of ten. So I think I have a good eye for what I am shooting, and I think I have captured some pretty good shots over the years. Where I fall short is understanding what I could have done better in a particular shot. Do you ever look at your images and think: that’s not what I saw when I shot that photograph? Better yet, do you buy every photography book and think that you’ll improve through simply owning it? The same goes for gear.
As I am packing and preparing to take the 12-hour drive home, leaving my only child at Duke University, I flutter between excitement for her new adventure and my complete and utter fear of the unknown. How did this happen? My baby girl grew up right in front of my eyes. I am not ready. I need a few more years to adjust to the idea of this thing called an “empty nest.”
Since an unspeakable tragedy touched our lives over two years ago, my life seemed to lack joy. As we grieved, our family came to the conclusion that the best way to honor those we had lost was to live our best lives. I think I was really good at helping everyone else, but somehow I was finding it hard to feel or see the joy in my own world. During this time, my father became critically ill, adding to the overall stress of my daughter’s senior year. I learned a lot during this time. Change is inevitable, and moving forward is different from moving on.
With senior year coming to an end, my husband gave me the best present I think I have ever gotten: Tickets to PhotoShop World in Orlando and four days that were all about me and creativity. I participated in the pre-conference and I felt so out of place I almost skipped the workshop. I am so glad I didn’t; in that workshop, I met Carl. Little did I know, he was the start of me feeling joy again. I spent the next three days surrounded by amazing photographers and graphic designers. Taking workshops, dining with an ever-growing group of creative and inspiring artists, drinking a bit too much, and staying up past my bedtime. The whole experience was like hitting a reset button -- A much needed reset as my daughter was preparing for college, my husband was preparing for retirement, and I was navigating hospitals and doctors’ offices helping my parents.
I read a great article titled "Saying Goodbye To My Child, The Youngster," published recently in the Washington Post. Writer Michael Gerson wrote that dropping his eldest son off at college was the worst thing that time had done to him.
"With due respect to my son's feelings, I have the worse of it. I know something he doesn't -- not quite a secret, but incomprehensible to the young," he wrote. "He is experiencing the adjustments that come with beginnings. His life is starting for real. I have begun the long letting go."
I could not agree more. We were so busy making sure our daughter was prepared for her great adventure into adulthood that we somehow forgot to prepare ourselves. I have been a work-at-home mom since she started kindergarten. I loved having the flexibility to be completely available and take part in just about everything she did, and for that I am truly grateful. But now it felt like I was being fired from my full time job being a mother to my daughter.
As my dad slowly recovered, my husband retired from the Air Force, and my daughter was receiving acceptance letters, I was forced to re-examine what was next for me. No more excuses.
So, with my camera, Macbook, Kelby Training Membership, husband, and two rescue puppies, I am officially starting my quest to become a better photographer and to recapture the joy in life.
My hope for this blog is to hold myself accountable and finally master my camera and capture even more amazing images. Along the way I hope to inspire other shutterbugs and empty nesters to pursue and find their joy. This is by no means a “how to” series, but more a look into the steps I am taking to improve my skills as a photographer. My empty nest project begins...