“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." Henry David Thoreau
Recently, after spending some time in the woods, I came back to my computer and posted an image on my photography Facebook page. In the caption I said something to the effect that if I were ever to write a book, it would be titled "How freelensing saved my life". In a way, I was 100% serious. Here I stand, somewhere in the beginning of my artist journey. I am a forty year old mother of three, who decided to purchase a camera a year and a half ago, to fulfill this intense creative itch I had burning inside of me. I knew from the beginning what I wanted to capture with this little light box of mine; my family, authentic moments, meaningful details, and to document love. What I didn't know at the beginning though, was that these were all things that I would be doing not just for myself, but for others, and that I would once again be left feeling unfulfilled. That is not to say that these reasons were not and are still not important to me, they are still very much my priority. I want to leave my children with a visual representation of the immense love I have for them and for them to see their childhood through my eyes, but as an artist, I am left wanting more. I am left wanting to create art just for me.
My life is probably like most mothers my age, full of work, appointments, sporting events, birthday parties, and non-stop running around. I live a beautiful life, simple, but beautiful. Recently there have been changes in my life, a period of transition. My youngest, my only daughter, started kindergarten and I started a job outside the home for the first time in 5 years. This was a huge transition for me, but I know that so many have struggles outside my own comprehension. Reading the news everyday about the conflict that people face, I feel completely blessed to have the life I have. It can be difficult to feel a connection with the world when you are in a comfortable bubble. I found a small way to connect with humanity and to deal with my own transitions, and it started with something as simple as looking outside. I decided to take my camera with me on our family walks in the woods, not to only capture those precious moments together, but for another unrelated reason; to connect my love of nature and my place as a human on this Earth with my inner artistic soul. I discovered the technique, the art of freelensing.
Freelensing can be done just about anywhere, but for me that quiet connection with nature is what makes my heart soar. I have transitioned from the family walks, to my own lone walks in nature, or even sunrise walks in my own backyard. This change from the dramatic black and white soulful images of my personal work to saturated freelensed nature images has been growing slowly over this past year. While I still love the contrast and emotion in a great black and white image, I find that most of the time, nature deserves its color, from the vibrant colors of fresh budding summer flowers, to the soft, warmth of color that Autumn brings. And as always, I am constantly looking to see how the light affects the subject in the image. With freelensing, the light can create dramatic effects, stunning light leaks, lens flares, and gorgeous bokeh. There is something about the combination of these things in an image, that honestly can make my heart happy, no matter what is going on in my life at that moment. This is my way of connecting with our Earth and a little piece of my soul...and it is so, so beautiful. I challenge every artist to remember that it's ok to create art just for yourself. I am slowly but surely learning this along my path.