Photographer Reflects on Contest
When Lorraine came into the office to see me she started talking about some of the things she'd experienced during the three-day photography contest. I was moved by her observations and asked her if she'd write something for the Pivot blog. She submitted the following...
My name is Lorraine. I would like to share a little reflection on my experience participating in the Hope in Shadows photography contest this year.
At first I hesitated. Should I enter? I would become competition to my daughter and photographer Lesya - a former Hope in Shadow second and third prize winner. I wouldn't want to take anything away form her… It has been such a positive piece in her life and instrumental in forming her confidence over these past two years… Yet I was being inspired to sign up because of her and so I have her to thank.
Also an inspiration was Colleen Lanki from TomoeArts who chose my Lesya to take photos along with four other Hope In Shadow photographer winners. It was wonderful to see that Colleen had felt something about the work of Hope in Shadows and particularly of the artists that she chose. When Colleen passionately described the essence of her project through the Japanese word En, meaning circle or fate, a kind of serendipity of life coming together in the faces and minute, I was drawn in and wished that I could be one of the photographers in her project. So I was of course very happy for my daughter to be involved and for her new relationship with a lovely photographer, mentor and volunteer, Ms. Jan Gates.
I used to take pictures a long time ago and had once been inspired to create new memories as I had many to replace from my past. I decided that I would buy a camera to begin creating a new palette for my life and to help me with the loss of my ability to maintain memories. The photos would cement the events in my mind and act as prompts to my journey as a mother and wife.
So I found myself awaking early on the morning of Wednesday June 1st and preparing to collect two cameras this year, one for my daughter and one for myself. It was such a privilege and very exciting to be at the Interurban Gallery with all the other hopeful photographers waiting their turn to hear that silent starting gun that goes off the minute you leave on your endeavour for the three days to come.
I felt immediately intentional and wondered how to begin. I began with something that just caught my eye and then began the process of deciding what it was that I wanted to bring to my neighbors. I quickly gained a respect for how much hard work it is to meet this challenge of photographing your thoughts and feelings and relationships to things around you and the people in your life.
I would walk all day, even not stopping to eat because I was so focused. Suddenly time stood still but was rushing all at the same time. How would I spend my next three days? Where would I go? What would I focus on?
I knew I liked taking portraits but was surprised to find that although I am a person that can start a conversation with anyone, I felt apprehensive about asking people to give me something of themselves and to trust me. Yet, I was able to stay my course because it was going to be great to find those things "where for a moment we are common,” like Colleen had shared from a cherished poem.
I noticed that there were many circles, that there was much too see, and of how little I look up and around me when I am going through my day. Usually all I can think about are my problems, but not now. I was fully focused on story, idea, experience, light, angle, mood, and inspiration. I found that I was not concerned with winning, that I was more interested and excited to see what I had come up with, that I felt good about what I was sharing, and that I felt connected to these frames somehow.
When I got anxious and wasn't sure what to do next I met a man, a fellow photographer in a neighborhood cafe where I actually did stop for a while to take a lunch break. With regards to my anxiety over getting pictures I had told myself not to push it but to just let it come naturally, that the ideas would come and that the process was special for me. At the end of my conversation with this gentle and very thoughtful man we concurred that some are hesitant while others keep returning to the hot element on the stove.
I learned that I am hesitant. One that will look at six different angles before taking a shot and then still ask myself is this the one? And that my daughter is like the one returning to the hot element, observant and willing to take risks. That day, I learned to appreciate this about my daughter and value our different approaches.
So much insight is gained about yourself in doing a project like this with the camera as your voice and your inner thoughts and kind moments with others as your teachers. After the first day I was pleasantly exhausted and hoped to wake early the next morning to catch the light. The light that I caught was a glimmer of renewed happiness from behind a camera lens and some new budding relationships with those whom I collided during the Tomoe Arts and Hope In Shadows experiences.
Oh yes, I must mention that my daughter was happy for me, not threatened or shadowed. She and I went out together and buddied for a few hours and this was so great because for a moment we were common, connected and on the same page. So much can be drawn from any given choice in our lives if we are willing to take the risk to give ourselves a chance.
Thanks Carolyn and Paul, Hope in Shadows, Colleen, Jan, my daughter Lesya, and to all those I met during my three day adventure with the Hope in Shadow photography contest.