A couple of weekends ago I left my kiddos for the first time to experience something new and long overdue. I flew to Salt Lake City and then drove to the absolutely stunning Sundance Resort in the Wasatch Mountains. It was a weekend of meeting new friends, breathing life into well known concepts and seeing the beauty in others. The Wallflower Friends Retreat was something I have been needing for many, many years and I still have yet to realize it’s impact on my spirit and soul.
Deb Schwedhelm and Leah Zawadzki poured their hearts into this weekend and shared with all of us their own way of being with the art of photography. It was such a gift to hear their stories in their own words and inflections. Jonathan Canlas gave of his precious time to make us all cry and feel the impact and responsibility we have as photographers capturing life as we see it.
I truly believe that the creative process can not be done in a vacuum and I have finally escaped the suction and see the importance of being around other creatives. I was surrounded by many others so talented that it makes me want to be the best I can be and be thrilled that others are striving to be the most creative person they can be.
One of my most supportive clients recently sent me this quote from Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg (we both agree that you can replace “writers” with “photographers”):
Writers are great lovers. They fall in love with other writers. That’s how they learn to write. They take on a writer, read everything by him or her, read it over again until they understand how the writer moves, pauses and sees. That’s what being a lover is: stepping out of yourself, stepping into someone else’s skin. Your ability to love another’s writing means those capabilities are awakened in you. It will only make you bigger; it won’t make you a copy cat…great writers realize they are what they are in love with…
…So writing is not just writing. It is also having a relationship with other writers. And don’t be jealous, especially secretly. That’s the worst kind. If someone writes something great, it’s just more clarity in the world for all of us. Don’t make writers “other,” different from you: “They are good and I am bad.” Don’t create that dichotomy. It makes it hard to become good if you create that duality. The opposite, of course, is also true: if you say, “I am great and they aren’t,” then you become too proud, unable to grow as a writer or hear criticism of your work. Just, “They are good and I am good.” This statement gives a lot of space.
I am still learning and growing and am proud of that. I love where I am with photography and excited to spend the next 20 years learning even more about this amazing vocation.