Today marks 9 months since my daddy transitioned.
It goes without saying, photography is therapeutic. The world could be crashing down, but heading out into the world and finding something photo-worthy, something beautiful or unusual to capture through the lens, can truly help you focus and center yourself while you try to get just the right angle and composition. Photography can get you out of your own head, especially when you're going through challenging times. Here are three ways in which I've been using my gift of photography to help me grieve.
1. PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWS ME TO CREATE SOMETHING MEMORABLE FOR OTHERS
There's truly nothing like giving back to others to help you work through your own challenges. Making someone smile, doing something nice for them, or, in my case, capturing their special moments has helped me as I work through my own grief.
So much goes into creating a quality photograph, and for the photographer, it's not just about pointing at your subject and clicking, it's so much more than that. In your mind, you're waiting for just that right moment, in their face or in their eyes. You're waiting for a cloud to pass or the sun to reflect in exactly the right way, you're setting up the shot and thinking about your next one. All the while, you're connecting with your subject, trying to capture their personality and make the photo exactly what they want it to be.
Through all of this, I'm momentarily removed from the moment and from my own grief. I'm caught up in their story, in their lives. I do my best to make their stories come to life through my lens. What I'm hoping for when they get their proofs back, is that they feel as though I captured exactly who they are. Photography allows me to stand in someone else's shoes for a moment and see the world as they see it while simultaneously bringing out their uniqueness and beauty.
When I photograph a couple on the beach holding their newborn, I know I'm helping a beautiful family see themselves as others see them in all of their exhausted yet loving glory. Or, when I chronicle bathtime for our new puppy, I'm capturing memories that my daughter will look back on with love.
2. I'm able to see the world through different eyes when I'm taking pictures
As mentioned, being able to get out of my own head and explore the world around me, whether that's nature, everyday activities, or people in the community, gives me one of the best gifts a person could receive; the ability to see the world through the eyes of someone else. Not only am I using photography to help me grieve, but I'm also using it to change my perspective and how I see the world.
Something happens to you once you lose a parent. When you lose a mother or a father, it's one of the few times you experience grief or disappointment without that person who has always had your back. After all, who was always there to pick you up after you fell; usually a parent, and with them gone, it's almost as though you're parenting yourself.
This unique perspective allows for a great number of feelings and emotions, most notably that of empathy. And empathy is how you're able to see the world through the eyes of other people, making photographing people and places, that much more interesting. With a different perspective, you can see things you may not have noticed before. You may overhear a teenager being rude to their grandparent and cringe, or notice an elderly person struggling along on the sidewalk, arms laden with heavy grocery bags.
Capturing everyday moments, sadness, celebrations; the ups and downs of life, through photography, is a gift, but when you approach your gift, as I did, with an empathetic mindset, after experiencing loss and working through my grief, I'm more in tune to the nuances of life and others experiences, making me much more connected and in harmony with the people, places, and experiences I'm capturing during a session.
3. PHOTOGRAPHY TO HELP ME GRIEVE: AN IMPORTANT CREATIVE OUTLET
No matter what we're going through, having something to pour our hearts and minds into, can be an enriching experience. For some, it's painting or drawing, for others it's music or the arts and for a special subset, photography is a therapeutic and healing part of their lives.
For me, spending time behind the lens, recreating what I see in an artistic way, is the connection I need to focus my energy and emotions. Utilizing my gift of photography while grieving the passing of my father, has been a healing experience. Grief comes in waves and can hit out of the blue. But, I'm comforted knowing I can escape to my art when I need to reconnect.
Knowing that I can get out and take pictures and express myself through my art, keeps me on an even keel, when life tends to spiral out of control. Because regardless of the grief and sorrow I'm experiencing, I still have to keep up with everything else in my life; family, kids, extra-curricular activities, my home, and my partner; it's all a juggling act that, when I'm able to slow down and capture the world in front of me, through my photography, I'm able to center myself, breathe and am renewed once again.
MY GIFT OF PHOTOGRAPHY WILL BE MY LEGACY AND GIFT TO MY FAMILY
Overall, rediscovering my love of and knack for photography has given me hope; hope for the future and hope for my ability to continue to heal and grow, despite the loss in my life. I am grateful for the special moments I was able to capture with my loved ones. My children, sitting on their grandfather's lap, playing and smiling together and just....being.
I am grateful that I still have my precious grandmother in my life and am able to capture her beauty every time I visit her in Mississippi. I know that the beautiful photos I've taken of her, capture her spirit and spunk. I'm comforted knowing that those photos will live on and keep her memory alive for generations to come. So, yes, focusing on one of my great strengths, I've been using photography to help me grieve and it's continually making an impact on myself, my family, and others.