For Curious GearHeads
Canon 5D Mark II
I found photography in 2008 after completing and publishing my clinical psychology doctoral research.
Photography gave me an engaging way to balance the invisible nature of my work with the visible world I love. It gave me a bridge between the private worlds of my clients with the public world. Best of all, photography enabled me to lose myself in the beauty of every day things.
As an academic and psychotherapist, most of my waking hours are spent in the conceptual sphere and in the private worlds of other people's minds.
These hours are often spent trying to understand the darkest most intense, confusing, and painful realities.
What a fascinating profession! How privileged to be invited into the inner sanctum of the human heart and mind. Yet...
I underestimated the consequences of living in the invisible and of keeping almost everything I heard and thought secret. Without fully realizing it, I became increasingly isolated and disconnected from the natural world of things and places.
The challenge for those who seek therapy is to talk in a fairly uncensored way and to reveal as much as they can about what they do, think, and feel.
To make it safe to do so, therapists' challenge is to be very thoughtful and careful about what they do, say, and feel--while still being true.
Psychotherapeutic work is designed to stir up deep emotion, new thoughts, and to revisit old memories long put aside--and it works! But not just for the client or patient--during therapy the therapist's thoughts, feelings, and memories get stirred up too.
What to do With all of those Stirrings?
But the work isn't about the therapists. While we need to attend to what's going on internally--we train ourselves to do so only as it relates to what is relevant for our clients. Much of what gets stirred up in us is neither relevant to what the clients need nor appropriate to share it with them.
The desire and ability to create art is what makes us quintessentially human. It helps us create meaning--express things that cannot be articulated--connects us to ourselves, to others and to nature.
I found I needed, not just wanted art. I needed to see it, to do it, to share it--and often. Twenty-four years in academia just about squeezed every ounce of art out of me.
Art as Play and Speaking
Art is play and communication for children and adults.
For many who cannot directly talk about what they think and feel art allows them to speak in images, sometimes as directly and sometimes in metaphor.
For me, photography is serious play that lets me communicate what I see, what is important to me, and what I experience. It allows me to say things for which I have no words.
All Photography is Self-Portraiture
Each image is a self-portrait of the photographer and of the viewer--no matter what the subject.
The magic of photography is that when looking at an image crafted by a photographer the viewers see reflections--not of the photographer--but of themselves.