It often takes a moment of stillness to find what you're looking for, especially if you don't even know what it is that you're looking for.
Sometimes that moment of stillness is what's needed for that thing to find you.
I don't photograph pets simply because they're adorable.
Not because they're part of the family or because they're "the new kids".
It's also not because our time with them is too short, and we should capture their memories to cherish forever.
These are all the reasons I've circled around and the reasons that you'll hear from most pet photographers.
And while they're all true, they are not THE reason I do what I do.
Because the thing we hear the most from photography educators, or ANY business coach or mentor for that matter, when you want to run a successful business is to ✨FIND YOUR WHY✨.
The deep, raw and emotional reason why we do all the hard work of running a business.
Keep asking yourself why, sometimes upwards of 20 times to peel back the layers and reach the deep down truth, the purpose behind why we pick up our cameras and work so damn hard in our business.
One of my mentors said "If it doesn't bring you to tears, you're not there yet" and she was absolutely right.
I was stuck on all the surface level reasons, the same reasons as other photographers. If it's exactly the same as someone else, especially THOUSANDS of someone elses, then it's not the true purpose.
Winter is a time of deep inner work, shadow work for those who partake in the more woo-woo of the world.
And it's within this darkness that it happened, I finally had my breakthrough moment.
That moment of pure clarity and inner reflection, and the tear started to flow.
I'm literally crying right now, typing this and thinking on that moment.
Everything happened to line up perfectly that evening. Probably even the stars, too.
I had just gotten my new bluetooth earbuds.
We had just put our son to bed for the evening and had gone outside to the backyard to have our evening joint (a must for my husband and I after a long day to help relax).
Bundled up against the cold and snuggled in under a blanket in our patio chairs, I plugged those headphones in and started to browse Tik-Tok. It's my favorite way to tune out and literally the only time I'm ever on Tik-Tok haha.
After a little while, the weed started to take effect and I was full of laughs from silly cat videos, full relaxation achieved.
Swipe. Swipe. Swipe. Pause...
I stumbled upon a beautiful video that captured my attention immediately.
It was an ice skater dancing atop a lake, surrounded by gorgeous mountains, a cloudy sky above him. The music playing was Ludovico Einaudi's "Experience" (my new favorite song).
Something about that video took me away from that moment, FAR away. I longed to be there, on the ice, spirit free as a bird and at peace. Nothing else mattered except being in that moment.
Eleutheromania (An intense, frantic and irresistible desire for freedom).
Fernweh (A yearning to go somewhere you’ve never been before).
Sehnsucht (Pining, longing, or yearning wistfully for something).
Serenity, ataraxia, tranquility.
Whatever you want to call it, that's my why.
How do you describe a feeling?
Simple answer? You don't.
You aim to show, to inspire that feeling in others.
And in that moment, watching that little Tik-Tok video, tears streaming down my face as the moment drew me in and away, I knew that was my Why.
I wanted to inspire that feeling in others through my artwork. Through my storytelling.
The photo above, with the wolf-dog standing at the edge of the river looking up towards the sky, was immediately my favorite image I've ever taken. I didn't realize at the time THAT was why.
I bring that photo with me to live events and it always grabs people's attention, stopping them in their tracks and making them gasp, oooh and ahhh.
People have cried looking at that photo and it wasn't even their dog.
Experiences fueled by emotion
I've always led with my heart, in all things in my life. Half the time I never even realize it.
Following my heart has always led to the greatest things in my life, even if they were scary.
Hell. It led me on a plane to Ireland, my first ever trip alone, to meet a man I met online and had only been talking to for less than 3 months. He's now my husband.
It should really come as no surprise that my Why is tied directly to inspiring emotions in others. To really make people FEEL something when they see my images.
And not just the pet owners. It's a common occurrence that pet parents will cry when I reveal their completed artworks in person to them. And yeah, I cry, too.
But invoking emotions in those who aren't already emotionally connected to the animal in the photo. Invoking something so deep and powerful that it brings tears to their eyes from sheer beauty and raw emotion.
That's my Why.
That's what will guide me moving forward.
Here's to beautiful new beginnings.