believing in the power of my own artist…

Believing in the power of my own artist. The artist within me. It is emerging. Coming out of the shadows. Fighting for air. To breathe. Just breathe. To fill my soul with that which I love is empowering. And so new. And so liberating. To undo all of the ties that have held my inner artist back. To remove the hands that covered my mouth. The fingers that pointed me in the direction that I thought I was supposed to go. I am letting go of it all. Stripping away the layers of doubt and self-criticism. Piece by piece, I am releasing the grip that has been suffocating my creative voice for far too long.

I have always worried about what everyone will think of my images. Mostly my fellow photographers. Will they find technical flaws in my images? The focus that fell just off the eyes and a bit to the side in an images I love? Well then, I’d better not put that one out there. For then I will certainly be called out as a fraud. A self-taught, mom-with-a-camera who doesn’t have a clue what she is doing. Yep, those voices have been silently smothering me. And they almost won. I almost gave up. Threw in the towel. It was just not fun anymore. The struggle to impress everyone else. The lack of my own creativity substituted with creatively copying others images. That is what you do when you cannot find your own voice. As I tried to follow every imagined rule out there, I found no room for my own thinking. I was too busying trying to keep up with what I thought I wanted. A wildly successful portrait photography business. The beautiful images I saw on many photographer’s websites. Oh, there are some amazingly talented people out there. And I wanted to be them. I wanted to live their success. But being them {or trying so darn hard to be them} was just squeezing the life out of the real me. There was just no room for the authentic me when I was trying to stay one step ahead of who I thought I was supposed to be and what I thought I was supposed to do. Success for me was defined by things that were really not important to the real me. Just to the me I thought I was supposed to be. The imagined me.

So I’ve been on this life altering journey. The finding of me. The stripping away at the layers of pretend, should, supposed to, ought to… Revealing the me I had lost somewhere along the way to this idea of who I thought I was supposed to be. I took a step. I  learned to fly. To focus on the artist within. To find my authentic self. The one + only person that can truly make me happy. The me that can be present in my life and appreciate it all.

I’ve taken a really honest look at my photography. At what I love about it. And what I don’t love. What makes my heart sing. What makes me want to grab my camera and just shoot. Because the desire to document whatever is in front of me is just so strong. I know exactly when I followed my own instincts. When I let myself listen to that voice inside that said to just take a few photos. Right on the spot. No planning. No perfect setting.  I was at Barb’s workshop. She had been telling us about this feeling. This creative heart that is inside each of us. She so strongly believed it was there for each of us. I think at that time, she believed it more than I did. Barb encouraged us to listen to that voice inside us. So, after a photo session with some models outside, we were walking back into the barn {on a lovely farm where our workshop was being hosted}. That is when I caught a glimpse of them. Barb’s girls and the son of the farm’s owners. Painting a giant piece of plywood. Aprons, paint covered hands and bare feet. I was just drawn to this quiet, unplanned moment. Instinctively, I told Barb that I just had to run over and take a few shots. She came with me. And this image of her in the frame watching her girls is one of my favorite images from that weekend. We had some amazing photo session set-ups, lighting and beautiful models. But this image of the kids being creative and carefree, in the late afternoon light under a tree. This is my favorite. Because it tells a story. And it taught me to go to a different place within my heart. My artist’s heart. My creative heart. The one I didn’t even think existed in me. There it was. Hiding on a little farm in Ohio.

Since that day last August, I have been learning to listen to my own voice. Some days it is stronger than others. But it is consistently telling me what to do. It is pointing me in the direction of my authentic vision as a photographer. Documenting. That is what I am meant to do. To tell stories with photographs. A little piece of time. A memory that comes rushing back just by looking at a photograph. This feels so right to me.

And the technical pieces? Yes, they are important. Knowing what to do with my camera is part of being a photographer. But when the quest for technical perfection starts to get in the way of the true emotion of the moment, it is time to take a step back. I will no longer sacrifice an image so full of emotion just because there is not tack sharp focus. There is so much that goes into creating an image. And I can see so clearly now that some of these technical imperfections are what makes these images so unique and full of life. Knowing the “rules” of photography will also allow me to break the rules too. In a creative + artistic way. I’ve always been a rule breaker. So, why stop now?

But I have been struggling with how to make it work. This documenting thing. I’ve been holding myself back by trying to fit a circle into a square peg. It just never quite fit. Well, that is what happens when you try to follow your heart, but hold onto the strings of the old way. I’ve been holding onto to being a portrait photographer. And all the things that come with that type of business. I don’t want to focus on being “in business” anymore. Do I love to take photos? Yes. Do I want to continue to take photos? Yes. Will I take photos for others? Yes. But I will do it in a way that creates a space for me to do what I do in a documentary way, offering the story of this moment. I refuse to follow the rules of either being in business or not in business. Who says I need to have a million clients and book every day of the month to be successful? Not me. Not anymore. My true success comes from being a present mother for my boys. Being a supportive partner to my husband who has supported me along this entire journey, never once doubting my choices. Even when they didn’t make the most sense. Success is doing what makes my heart sing. Holding onto the memories of my family and my life. Sharing that with others through photography. That is what makes me happy. So I will be a mom. Be there for my family. With them completely. Take photos of my life. Create, cook, read, learn, live. And continue to share my photography. Documenting the stories of real people. Because people make me happy.

So I’m simplifying what I do. Storytelling with photographs. Documenting my journey. And it is all linked up here on my new website that will hold all of my creative ventures {and a few I’m working on…} www.tracyslarsen.com. Now this makes my heart sing…

show hide 4 comments

ang - beautiful my friend. i can not even begin to imagine having not met you and in turn, gaining such a dear, dear friend. your journey has JUST begun, can’t wait to see where it takes you.

all my love,
me

amie hansen - hi tracy~ i loved reading this post right now.. i am at a cross road with my photography life.. my husband posed a question to me late in the evening last night of why do i love photography and why am i doing it, he says it is a saturated market and why should i keep doing it.. i started pouring out my soul to him of my love for photography what it brings to me as a person and how happy i am when i have a camera in my hand and being creative with it. he didn’t understand it at all.. so my heart is heavy in what direction i continue down.. i told myself i was not going to burn myself with sessions like i did the first 6 months of my business and only tackle at the most 5 sessions a month.. well that didn’t sit well with my husband and so now i am at a cross road because i get mixed feelings on how many or don’t do sessions etc.. i don’t want to give in to the power of him being negative about photography so for me i will use you and my fly friends to lean onto as my strength to hold on to my passion. thanks for being raw with us and staying true to who you are.. it is hard to do each day and i truly hope that i can remain true to myself and not give in!! thanks for listening tracy!

Hannah - Beautiful, Tracy. Thank you for being so real and sharing your journey here. I love your new website!

Stacey S - I am so inspired by what you wrote Tracy! It’s beautiful and so is your new website.

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