I’ve often thought that having children has helped me to live a more creative life, and that they alone have uncovered my inner artist. But before I had children, I loved to read books, listen to music, watch movies, read poetry, visit galleries, see live bands, meet new friends, walk in nature, travel to remote corners of the world, and I absorbed every experience as if I knew it would one day contribute to something magical in my life. So why do I feel that becoming a mother was the turning point in my life that led to photographerhood? Time. Children give us an acute sensibility of time.
My life has become more serious and also not serious at all. I have learned to lighten up, deep belly laugh at myself and accept that I can’t control everything in my life. But at the same time, life has never been so serious as I’m scarily mostly responsible for keeping these tiny helpless humans alive, and healthy, and kind, and full of their crazy individual characters that the rest of society seems to want to quash.
Virgil wrote that ‘All our sweetest hours fly fastest’ and while some hours in motherhood seem excruciatingly long, the years mostly fly by in a whirlwind of laughter, cuddles, tantrums, and natural chaos. Life seems so much more fragile and finite than it did before motherhood. Moments of happiness are tinged with a hint of bittersweet, as we realise how quickly they are growing, and when we hear stories of illness or accidents, we’re aware that it could all come crashing down around us at any moment. All the more important to accept happiness now without a caveat for the future.
Photography is a way of capturing and freezing our moments, but also allowing them to move on. I want to watch my children blossom into beautiful big humans with amazing personalities (I know they will amaze me, if nobody else in this world). I don’t want to keep them at this age forever. Every stage of life has a different kind of happiness, as well as a different kind of threat to our sanity, and it all makes life and the artistic journey more exciting.
So for now we will run along the beach at sunset till legs grow weary, hike into the forest till boots begin to rub, chase each other round the house till focus slips elsewhere, argue over crucial toddler issues till tears are streaming and fists pound the floor, and I will capture however much of it I can sensitively and affectionately. Then I will print it and keep it in my little wooden box of pictures, or hang it on our wall and we will continue on our journey together in this tiny creative pocket of our world.
Einstein wrote ‘The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once’. Our creative journey will continue for as long as we live our lives, and all the experiences we have along the way will make our lives all the richer. I’ve stopped trying to chase after balance as though creativity is perched on the opposite end of a creaky see-saw to everything else I love. I’ve mistaken balance for a meaningful life, which is what I really lust after. A life filled with laughter, adventure, romance, crazy to-do lists because I love what I do, life-changing friends coming and going. Sometimes it will be busy and sometimes it will be calm, but it will never be balanced. As long as we have each other, time can continue on its merry way.