Yeah, you do! I am so grateful for that. In my shop
I took my first photography class when I was in seventh grade. At twelve years old I was painfully shy, with hair that didn't quite feather right on one side. I was still wearing my saddleback yellow Ditto jeans and carrying a velcro wallet with a unicorn that I loved. I was awkward and strange and trying to fit into a world I didn't yet know much about.
It was the same year I changed the spelling of my name from Stacy to Stacie thinking that it would make me unique, or even likeable, and perhaps would buy me some sort of coolness to my otherwise perceived invisible self. I would like to say some of that awkwardness and self doubt has gone away, but I suspect that it has mostly not, I just have better tools now. Though with age also comes wisdom and I am now much less afraid of the awesomeness that also lived within my 12-year old self, and still does.
In seventh grade, Mrs. Weisers photography class was where I could escape from the battlefield of the junior high hallways. She played Genesis and Led Zeppelin at high volumes on lab days. She had long mermaid hair and was as relaxed as the jeans she wore to class each day. She was approachable and confident with who she was and what she was bringing to us, which is something I cannot recall about my other teachers.
Thanks to her I will never forget the smell of film developing solution or the isolated sexiness of a darkroom bathed in red light standing near that boy I had a crush on but could never dare to say two words to; simply standing near him in the dark, accidentely brushing hands once was enough for me to feel electricity at that tender of an age. Perhaps this is why to this day just imagining the smell of photo chemicals strangely excites me.
I remember my Pentax K-1000 with it's strange sequence of numbers and round dials. It was like learning a new language that I desperately wanted to understand but to this day could never quite grasp. But even more than shutter speeds, f-stops and my early feelings of darkroom lust, what Mrs. Weiser ultimately taught me was how to see the world.
She taught me how to look at my environment differently, how to notice the life taking place in the quiet spaces inside a noisy world. She taught me to get outside of my head and seek out the relationship between light and shadow and range of emotions in the stillness of everyday spaces.
I remember one black and white photograph I had developed in her class of my young cousin, her blonde baby-fine hair whipping in the seabreeze and joy radiating contagiously from her smile with one of the family dogs. The photo tells a clear story of what happiness looks like and Mrs. Weiser asked if she could submit it to a student photography contest. My shy self said no. Bless her, she did it anyway and that photo won second place.
What I learned from that experience is that I had a gift of seeing and capturing the life in a moment. I could see beauty everywhere and in common places others might not ever notice, which is the gift of any photographer.
Photography is how I express myself, like the singer who sings, or the artist who paints, or the chef that rises at 5:00 am each day to find the best ingredients for their kitchen... I am compelled to document moments through a lens, even (especially) when inconvient, as well as to share. It's how I self express and communitcate best. It's where I find healing, joy, connection and gratitude for life. It might sound crazy but it's how I meditate. And when I don't practice regularly, if not daily, it shows up in my life in not-so-pretty ways.
As I remember this particular snapshot of my life the name of my first photography teacher, Mrs. Weiser, is not lost on me nor is the gift she ultimately gave me. Part of my larger dream is to give the same gift she gave to me to other young girls, starting with my own daughters.
My photo-based course Getting Naked with the Now: Rooted in Gratitude is a new beginning for me and a exploratory step in a direction outside my comfort zone. It was born out of a period of time where I had forgotten how to see the magic of the everyday. I was trying to see with blinders on and my cameras were collecting dust.
I was hanging out with the wrong crowd... anxiety, sadness, depression and isolation. One day I walked outside and took 100 steps. Unbeknowst to me at the time through these steps, I was inviting healing, joy, connection and gratitude to return as my companions.
I am not a savvy marketer, that clear of a communicator or even a great photgrapher for that matter, but I am learning to be better in each of these areas because I sincerely want to grow and I believe in my dream.
I create because it's what fills me and where I find joy. I created this course for us based on my own discoveries and experience. What brought me back to remembering the beautiful parts of myself that I had put away for awhile is something I believe will be beneficial to others. I created this course for you and for me as I practice it right along with you. I don't see myself as a teacher, I see myself as a continuous participant and a lifelong learner with an eagerness to share with the world.
I practice gratitude to help me remember the essence of who I am and what I have gathered along the way.
If any of this resonates I invite you to remember your own ways of seeing and practicing gratitude daily through your unique creative vision and expression. There are two more days to register for Getting Naked with the Now: Rooted in Gratitude. I am saving a seat for you.
Register here today.