picturing BEGINNINGS


be.gin.ner (noun) – a person who is new to or inexperienced in a certain task, situation.

It’s been a long time since I let myself be a beginner at anything. Don’t get me wrong. I love trying new things: traveling to new places, learning new skills, taking on new challenges. Beginnings make me feel energized, hopeful, alive. However, being a beginner — new to or inexperienced at anything — makes me a bit (by which I mean, very) uncomfortable. And this has certainly been the case with both photography and blogging.

I’ve been thinking about starting a photoblog for a while now. Well, wait. Let me start at the beginning. For the past year, I’ve been trying to create balance in my life by intentionally finding time each day to work, play, and rest. One of the ways I created time for play was by enrolling in a 9-week photography class. In the course, we completed a series of technical exercises (e.g., hyperfocal focus, shallow depth of field), in which we shot the equivalent of a roll of film (all of us were using digital SLRs) — 36 photos — each week. We then printed our photos with no corrections and presented our 8 “best” to the class. The photography class was a lot of things — it was a great place to connect with a photography community in Lincoln, it was an excellent resource for learning how to use my new Canon EOS Rebel t2i, and it helped me to begin to figure out what my own unique photo style might be. But, more than anything…it was just plain FUN! I loved taking, printing, and sharing my pictures.

When I asked, what next? My soul whispered…hmm…a photoblog might be kind of fun. I’ve found that if I even take a small step toward creativity — acknowledging a small creative dream, for example — the universe often responds with a little prompting of its own. In this case, my creative sister-in-law, Brady Gervais, writer, runner, and non-profit extraordinaire, mentioned in passing that maybe I should start a Photoblog.Ā  My spirit entertained the possibility for about 2 seconds, but then my beginner’s doubts crept in.

You are not a good enough. No one’s going to want to look at your photographs or read your thoughts about photography, my inner perfectionist said.

You don’t have enough time to start a blog, (especially if you want to get tenure), my inner workaholic chimed in.

Anything you create won’t be original — there are other people in your life who have been doing this a lot longer. There’s no room for another photographer and if you try, you’re going to look like a fool, my impatient social comparison fiend added.

Yet, I wondered, what if. What if I embrace my beginner’s status? What if everything didn’t have to be perfect? What if I committed only small chunks of time each day? What if I could connect with other like-minded people at all stages of their creative journey and we could help each other?

I keep coming back to the fact that taking and sharing my pictures makes me more mindful. When I’m taking pictures, I’m in the moment. I’m not thinking of the dishes that need to be done or the manuscript that needs to be submitted. It gives me perspective. Most of my favorite photos are of ordinary objects that picture an extraordinary meaning to me because of their fresh perspectives. Finally, I’m finding creative communion, by sharing my photography and creativity with fellow creative spirits.

So, where do we go from here? I will be sharing one of my photographs each day and one longer blog post each week. Most of the photos will be new (i.e., taken that day), but I will also revisit some older ones because, as my photographer teachers says, sometimes you need to sit with a photograph for a while as it reveals its many layers. Most importantly, I will be embracing my beginner status. I’m giving myself permission to be a beginner in every regard — I don’t have to have it all figured out yet, I will make mistakes (probably some big ones), I can try new things simply because it sounds like a little fun. I already see curves in the road ahead, but I’m going to focus on each step, each moment, each day and have faith that the path will be presented to me.

  1. Welcome to the blogosphere, my friend, and congrats on starting your blog!! Can’t wait to continue on the journey with you. xo

    • Thanks for all of your support. Its great to be on this journey with you šŸ™‚

    • Tara
    • September 25th, 2010

    You are inspiring, my dear! This is neat and I am excited for you! (And for me to get to see what’s going on in your life more often…cool!) I love you!

    • Dad
    • September 25th, 2010

    Cool Sal


    • Lauren
    • September 26th, 2010

    I love your blog, Sarah! I am looking forward to seeing more of your photos and also hearing more about your creative process. As usual, your writing is fresh, honest and interesting. What a great idea! Let’s catch up again soon. šŸ™‚ Lots of love to you!

    • Thanks, Lauren! I’d love to talk to you about pictures being “symbols” of something more sometime. Are they considered that?

    • Steve J
    • September 26th, 2010

    What a fun idea Sarah. Way to explore things outside of work. I’ll look forward to seeing more photos. As someone who’s taken more than a few photos over the years, just remember it’s a numbers game. I took hundreds of photos in Italy for less than 10 I was really happy with, and that’s in a very beautiful place! Good luck!

    • Thanks for checking it out, everyone! I appreciate the support!!

    • Thanks Steve! Obviously, I love your photos and I appreciate the support. Apparently Ansel Adams thought it was a great year when he came away with 12 good prints. I’m just along for the ride — focusing on process, not product (though hopefully, they’ll go together).

    • Sarita G.
    • September 26th, 2010

    Congrats on this! Love the layout etc. Also love the content… I have been thinking lately about being a beginner as well. Like you, I am much more comfortable when playing the role of seasoned and capable girl. Now that I’ve started teaching, I am officially embarking on a career I know little to nothing about, and am reminded on an almost daily basis that I am a beginner. It is not a comfortable place to be, but I think it’s also so necessary/important in our lives. Bravo!

    • Thanks, SG! Glad you can relate…it feels like we should have “everything” figured out by now. Hopefully you can give yourself a break and embrace your beginner status too because you are doing a great job! Can’t wait to catch up later this week.

    • Heather
    • September 27th, 2010

    Howdy Sis šŸ˜‰ Awesome, I love it, Cheers to you! I am excited to follow along, love the imagery so far, sophisticated, elegantly simple yet intriguing.

    • Hey H! Thanks for the note! So excited to see you in June and to check out your blog…magic, mystery, and madness…it doesn’t get any more INTRIGUING than that!

  2. Congrats on starting the photoblog. Thanks for leaving that lovely comment at my blog.
    I’m so pleased.
    Starting a photoblog when I did way back in 2000 helped my photography like you wouldnt believe. You want to shoot for the blog and because you’re shooting far more regularly, your photography automatically improves.
    Starting a blog is great way to improve your photography. Good luck!

    • Grandpa Bill
    • November 18th, 2010

    Now that I am about to retire, I am getting ready to begin some new activities—so even in my old age, I will be a beginner for part of each day.

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