It might come as a surprise to some, yet not to me, Ron Clifford’s final mission for our Advanced Photography Mentorship was to ‘Get Over It’… a refocus on how it’s all about the journey, it’s not a destination. His one instruction – embrace the process. He reminded us everything, especially our artistic expression via photography, is a decision and it was time to take a reflective look at our ways that may not be allowing our potential the freedom to grow. He asked us to make a commitment to personal change, to change one thing that will allow our inner creative to play and to embrace whatever the conditions are that we face. He brought the mentorship full circle and had us ‘look the situation in the eye and decide to find a way to create images from what is before you. Consider what is prominent and embrace and emphasize it.’ Little did he know his mission was to be a prominent theme in many people’s lives over the course of the following weeks and that as my life would have it… my final mission brought the journey of My G+ Story full circle.
My Google+ story began in July of 2011 close to two years after my dad died, my marriage ended, my daughter received a diagnosis of a ‘high needs’ condition/was kicked out of daycare, my employment was suddenly terminated, and on top of all that I had yet to heal from a broken leg, which had all occurred within a 5 week period in the fall of 2009. I had been unemployed for nearly two years, one year into building an online business as a professional photographer and I was finally beginning to accept the physical hardships I swept under the rug while working in the feast or famine consulting world of environmental remediation were not going to fit well into full-time work, growing a business on the side, and single-mom-hood. After years of searching and interviewing for jobs, I ‘got over it’ and for the first time in my life… I embraced my creative side. I declared myself a professional photographer and began changing my life. When what should arrive in my world… an invite to G+ BETA and the rest is history in the deep dark depths of what is called ‘the internet’.
Instantly I saw the network’s potential, I got how social relationships were the future, and was amazingly embraced into the photography community. I made the commitment early on to take it one step at a time, to challenge myself to actually LIVE and LEARN what a camera was capable of producing, to identify my work as Straight out of Camera for that was what it was, to celebrate it, and to give myself the freedom to grow at that level until I had gained strength and confidence enough to call myself a ‘photographer’. This permission also allowed me peace in not having the funds to buy the latest tools… to embrace my life conditions.
I literally started as a nobody online, I began at zero… I had a few friends and family I shared with in very tight circles and that day I joined G+, I took the leap of faith into Public. It has been a steady progression, I have witnessed more than I can wrap my mind around some days and a future of amazing proportions has come alive in my mind. Then one day in the spring of 2012 the members of the photographic community offered an opportunity for online mentoring, I bravely raised my hand, and I was ecstatic when Ron selected me for his G+ Photography Mentorship. A couple weeks later, I watched as photographers gathered that June for Anniversary Photowalks all around the world and I knew my journey was well on it’s way.
After rocking my world to the next level in the first mentorship by introducing me to Lightroom and moving my work outside the camera, Ron’s inclusion in his pilot Advanced Photography Mentorship was the final leg in that journey and it was only fitting my final mission aligned with a spring Seattle G+ Photowalk. It had me look at what ways I needed to artistically grow and in sync with my own personal transformation away from believing myself not good enough… I reached the recognition that I had retreated from everyone during my hardships, that I had created the pattern of ‘playing’ alone in my home, hid behind my computer, and that I needed to make a personal commitment to return to the world.
So mission in mind, I arrived at my first photowalk… and what should immediately surface, my camera’s not good enough. No joke. Here I was face-to-face with REAL photographers like Jake Johnson, Jacob Lucas, Michael Riffle… people I had gained oodles of respect for, their cameras were HUGE, they owned tripods for Pete’s sake, and we were photographing a well known landmark. GULP! I felt like a freshman walking into the varsity football locker room for the first time at state finals and it took me all of a millisecond to realize, my camera could not compete. I have to admit, it took me awhile… then BAM! I heard Ron’s words… ‘Get Over It!’ ‘Look the situation in the eye and decide to find a way to create images from what is before you. Consider what is prominent and embrace and emphasize it.’ So, I centered myself on my commitment of creating connections with the world, people, peers… everything and I embraced the moment. I felt light and I PLAYED.
The day was amazing, I made new friends, I found playful angles, I enjoyed the sights, and when I began processing my photos in Lightroom… it dawned on me how far I had come on my journey. It hit me how much Ron’s mentorships had changed my life, how I never wanted a destination, that his connection and the others I have met along the way meant more than words could express, and that my life as a creative had only just begun. It seems only fitting the day offered a sense of celebration, that my photos couldn’t help but capture.
And to show how far I’ve come… a before and after
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