Friday, September 18, 2009


I remember this one day about four or five years ago when I was running along the canal. It was September sometime and the sun was just going down leaving the most beautiful orange glow over the water. It was my favourite time of day and my favourite time of year to run. I like to pray a lot when I run. While I send dozens of thank yous a day to the heavens, I can be a bit long-winded when I pray! I like to be very precise in my prayers {I have this on-going paranoia about asking God to open up my heart and then being subjected to open heart surgery one day!!! So I just like to be clear!} and during my runs is the perfect opportunity to do so. On this one particular day, I remember praying the same prayer that I had prayed time and time again; “Please God, help to find what it is that I’m supposed to be doing with my life”

I’ve spent the better part of my adult life in the midst of some pretty incredible experiences. I’d been hired right out of university to work on Parliament Hill and then three years later, I began my career in the fine arts. Even in my teens, I seldom had an “ordinary” job. I’ve been extremely fortunate in my professional life and have been exceptionally grateful for all of the rather unexpected turns that it may have taken along the way. But even then, I never sensed that any of those things fulfilled my long-term purpose…they weren’t what I was supposed to be doing. At least not in a capacity that felt divinely inspired. I constantly longed to be involved in something that enabled me the freedom that I desired while still contributing in a way that was significant and creative…and whatever it was…I knew that it was out there somewhere. I just didn’t know what it was.

This is the very answer to that prayer that I’ve spent so many years perfecting; This place, this art, this craft, this venture, this leap of faith into a world that I’ve never been before is what I’ve always longed for. And it’s been amazing! As each day unfolds into the next, I am reminded that where there is a gift…there is a Giver.

Like all things though, they come with their challenges. Two things that have come to mind lately when I consider the challenges of pursuing this dream have been the art of comparison and wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing! Allow me to address the wolves first; I once read that in the earliest stages of conception of any dream, you should be very careful whom you choose to share it with because sadly, more often than not, it won’t be received with the support that you were hoping for. In my case, it was very well received and the support was overwhelming…but it certainly didn’t come from the people that I thought it would. In fact, in many ways, it came from some of the least expected sources. As the months rolled on, some of the people who were happy to share their photographic knowledge and expertise with me slowly distanced them selves to the point that what used to be a shared passion for a particular craft became two strangers passing each other on the street. I wasn’t prepared for this. I wasn’t prepared for the conditional support that comes with exceeding someone else’s expectations and I certainly wasn’t prepared for the fact that some people will not only be waiting with baited breath for you to fail, but they will actually wish it upon you. And that makes me sad…

The other challenge I often face is the inclination to compare myself to other photographers. It’s a very fine line between inspiration and slowly chipping away at your self-esteem through the brilliance of someone else! I’ll be the first to admit that comparison can be a deadly addiction and it can, if you’re not careful, suck the life right out of your dreams. I have a short yet mighty list of photographers that I like to follow and let me tell you…they are AMAZING! Their work blows me away, their creativity makes my heart skip a beat and their constant ability to produce incredible photographs day after day leaves me mesmerized. Depending on the day though, it can also leave me feeling like I’ll never quite get “there” {wherever “there” might be!}. The irony if it all though is that even if and when I do reach that place of higher potential…I still won’t be them…because I can only be me.

So as I’ve been going through my week feeling the weight of these challenges a bit more than usual, I’ve been trying hard to remember that even the greatest of blessings have their bad days…that it isn’t always the perfect light or the ideal location or the string of glorious details. Some days are just going to be better than others. C’est la vie!

I’ve been asked to submit one of my photographs for an art exhibit / charity auction next week at La Petite Mort Gallery to support Doctors Without Borders. I feel quite flattered despite my anxiety at seeing if my print actually sells or not!!! But as I was going through my work from this year to try to select one piece, I came across this picture that I took of the beautiful Miss Olivia back in March...

Olivia and Josh were my very first “clients” and this was actually the very first photo that I took of that session. And I love it! I love it with every fiber of my being! I can remember hardly sleeping at all the night before and then singing through the entire four hour drive to Toronto to meet them at the Distillery. It was such an amazing weekend {with approximately three Starbucks runs in between to keep the motors running!!!}! Later that day I shot this picture of one of the most beautiful and most important people in my life...

Both of these pictures are still two of my favourite of the literally thousands that I’ve taken over the past eight months. I’ve decided that I need to print them and post them prominently over my desk as a reminder of why I do this; it’s not so that I can prove something to the people who think that I can’t do it and it’s not so that I can be like someone else…but it’s so that I can spend every day living and remembering that “I’m not beautiful like you. I’m beautiful like me.” ~ Joydrop


Carolyn said...

Mom verification word is "preach"!

Jen Berry said...

love that last photo. there's something about her intense focus. Also the composition is perfect