“Is he teaching you anything you don’t already know?” John asked me.
“I’m not sure that’s what it is about,” I answered. “My photography needed a kick, so I am taking this class. I want to be in a space where I am compelled to make work and talk about it.”
“OK,” John said dubiously.
I was describing to John an online class I recently took through the International Center for Photography in New York. John is a writer and photographer friend, irreverent and therefore delightful. I have written about John many times, not that he knows it. John does not use the internet.
When I enrolled, I was in the midst of my annual winter reckoning of self. Like the darkness of winter and the darkness that precedes monthly bleeding, I look deeply inward and critique.
Jared and I were also in the midst of deep discussion about our business, what we each bring to it, and how to evolve our relationship to the business. It was incredible personal and challenging, as well as uncomfortable.
While there were weeks of intense rumination that resulted in awful backache that made it hurt to breathe, I and we came out the other side. And, all the better. I now: understand why I sometimes have a backache, am more willing to directly face conflict, and have a clearer sense of what specific things stress me way the heck out (conflict, real and perceived, being a big one). And last, I went back to something I love, something completely unrelated to my daily tasks as mother, wife, and business owner.
Photography. My own creative space. My small view on the world, just like this space here.
Indeed, the class was a kick, moving me forward into new material. Ten years have passed since I last exhibited or published photographs. Up until that point, photography was a tremendous part of my life. I put it down for awhile, and that is a story for another time.
My classmates brought great work to critique, inspiring me to think and speak of photography. Our instructor pushed us all forward with thoughtful comments, suggestions, and guidance. Jared, my husband, and our son spent hours on our winter trip to Florida in various Barnes & Noble stores so I could access wifi and dial into my class meetings. Many friends reached out with encouraging words as I posted new work. Thank you.