Thursday, February 7, 2013

Playing Make-Believe

Ever since I was eight and saw the Sound of Music for the first of many times in my life, I have been in love with Julie Andrews. I idolized her during my developing years as a singer, from elementary school through college. Everything she did was magic. So when she was announced as the featured guest on the Colbert Report the other night, I almost peed my pants with excitement.

Of course, she was not there to sing, but to promote the latest work in her children's book series, The Very Fairy Princess, that she writes with her daughter. When she was asked why she wrote another children's book about princesses when there has been such a backlash against the princess-as-a-role-model storyline, Julie replied:

"Well, you see this is a little girl who feels, despite a lot of evidence to the contrary, that she has a certain sparkle inside that makes her convinced she is a fairy princess."

I promise this has relevance, but let's pause there for a second.

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about why I love to make photographs. As I embark on this as my career, I've done a lot of soul searching because I believe the answer holds the key to my success and ability to persevere during the times when this will be hard and I will want to quit. Right now, I love everything about photography and having my own business, but, just like any worthwhile pursuit, there will be times where things don't go the way you plan and it seems easier to throw in the towel than to trudge forward. So I want to know why this matters to me and why taking pictures has become my life mission.

And, because-I-love-pictures is not enough. There's usually a deeper reason we are propelled to make art.

First of all, I know that I am driven by a need to create. It's like an energy force within me, that's the best way I can describe it. This is why I also love DIY. But I've found lots of ways to create in my life, through music, theater, painting, writing, design...and eventually quit almost every single one. Because I did them because other people told me I was "good" at it, but the flame of passion for each of those things was not inside me. Because I erroneously thought that the goal was to be perfect, when really it was to create.

In my heart, I know that my need for photography comes down to the way I view the world. I am a believer in making my own destiny and reality, designing the life I want to live. Despite evidence to the contrary, I want to believe that the world is full of kindness and joy and positive energy, so I will find a way to make it really that way. And I rely heavily on my visual sense to inform my understanding of "reality." Pictures are a way of remembering the world I experience and giving extra significance to particular moments that were filled with meaning or made me feel something. I preserve what I see beautiful because I think beauty changes people, makes us happier and better. But we have trouble finding beauty in ourselves, and are constantly searching for validation from others. This is what I think I can offer to others, showing them how they are beautiful, how the places we inhabit can be beautiful, and I am forever inspired by the ways that we each turn our world into our own happy place.

Which brings me back to The Very Fairy Princess. Sometimes playing make-believe is just the inspiration you need for making your life the way you want it to be.

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