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Personal work: the act of creating just for creativity’s sake.

I became an English teacher all those years ago because I loved to be creative and I loved to facilitate “light bulb moments” in people. Using my creative talents to help young teenagers fall in love with literature and writing set my soul ablaze. It was my dream job.

Then, things started to shift. No Child Left Behind. This initiative. That literacy program. And, before I knew it, I was given a script from which to teach my students, and told not to deviate from it. My creative fire was extinguished, and slowly, over time, it broke my heart. Going to work every day made me feel physically ill.

This is the plight of creative people. The creativity within you is like a plant that has no choice but to grow toward the light. You can move it to any location within a room, and it will still grow toward the light source. If you take away the light completely, it will eventually die; but even the tiniest ray of light will encourage it to hang on through the darkness. In much the same way, creative people MUST create.

So, I picked up a camera. Photography became that tiny ray of light that sustained me through the darkness. I was able to create for the sake of my innate creativity, and little by little, it healed me.

Over time, my creativity evolved into a business, and this business of creating evolved into something that is beyond my wildest dreams. I am in love with what I do, with the stories I get to tell. Things have now come full circle, and I am once again using my creativity to facilitate light bulb moments in people. I am deeply grateful for the many ways photography has enriched our lives. Sometimes, though, I get so caught up in the momentum of creating for others, that I forget to create for myself. 

When I actively set aside the time to create purely for the sake of creativity, I notice a huge difference in the quality of my work overall. I need that time. The couples I create for and with need me to make that time so I can do my very best work consistently. This year I am setting aside more time for personal work than I have in the past eight years, because I finally realize how important it is for creative people to nurture their souls in this way.

There is a stigma in our industry that makes photographers feel somehow “lesser” if they are not being paid for the work they do. I reject that idea completely. You simply cannot be a master of your craft if you don’t allow yourself the space to create freely, hold nothing back, and push the boundaries of your comfort level. And, you cannot possibly be in love with what you do for the long term if you aren’t making the time to create purely for your own enjoyment.  It is absolutely the key to long term success.

These images of my friend, Michele, are my recent personal work, created purely for my own enjoyment. I hope you enjoy them, too. <3

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