It was June 17th of 2015, I remember because I took a photo. That is what I do when I feel down, I take photos. I took a photo not to record my sadness, disappointment or feeling of rejection. I took this photo to remind myself of all that was good and plenty in my life. I am an optimist, and as an optimist I looked at all the possibilities and the positive things I could get from this experience.
For weeks I had been planning and preparing my portfolio for something that I thought would be a positive step in my career as a photographer. I prepared while doubting myself, but built up the courage and sent the submission. I waited as I expected the worst news, and at last the news came. The “NO” that I dreaded, and with it the feeling of incompetence.
I realize now how silly I was, for feeling so down and for putting myself through the unnecessary “pity party”, but being rejected felt horrible. I know many of us has, at some point, had an experience like this, that leads to the feeling of not belonging, of not being good enough for a specific group. I did what felt good to me, I took a photo, and then and there I decided that I would stop feeling sorry for myself and seek ways to improve my photography.
At the time I was part of a small group of friends on Facebook who encouraged each other with comments and likes on each other’s pages. There was one woman in this group whom I admired greatly, and I asked her for help. She was a mentor and so I decided to invest money and time into mentoring with her.
She helped me go through my photos with a purpose of finding the photographs that were my “best”. I was to seek in myself what I really loved to photograph and why. She encouraged me to start a project. She also reminded me of something I did so often while in college and had forgotten all about. She reminded me to print.
During that time I photographed and printed almost every day. There is something so magical about a print, when you can touch an image and look at it form different angles and different distances. Touching these photographs made me feel more connected to them. It made me feel proud of what I was creating. Suddenly belonging to a group became less important. I didn’t feel like I needed the approval any longer and so I felt good, and complete.
From this experience with my mentor, I made my favorite collection of photographs, which later I turned into a very special book. Almost every day for weeks we visited our local park and I photographed what it felt like to be there. I captured what I saw, what I felt, what I wanted to remember of this place. Today, a year and a half later, I am still doing this. We visit the park, two, three, sometimes five times a week and I photograph my girls, experiencing this park, experiencing nature, the place we belong.