Almost exactly four years ago, I started a photography business called Simple Life Photography. The name came from a song I had heard, and it is what I craved. At the same time, I craved wild adventure and huge success… three things that do not coexist very well to an inexperienced young idealist.
A lot has changed in four years. I have acquired a degree. I have worked a lot of internships, restaurant jobs, moved 5 times, traveled the world a bit, experienced trauma, uncovered deeper hidden wounds, experienced healing and freedom. I have had many wonderful clients and met incredible people— friends, professors, mentors— in the journey. I have also come full circle. I have learned that adventure and simplicity can indeed coexist when the heart is rightly placed. I was traveling all over the country and around the world looking for the place where I belong, and looking for something extravagant that would bring satisfaction. I don’t know how else to describe the paradigm shift that happened early this summer except to say that I found myself sitting in a camping chair on a rocky beach for several hours a day simply listening and waiting on God. I read in a book my mother sent me,
“The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. The joy wonder could be here! Here, in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy might be—unbelievably—possible! The only place we need to see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now.”
(Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)
In the process of uncovering old hurts and dealing with recent ones, I found that I was incredibly blocked as an artist. I found that I had little to no motivation to continue to run my business, and had the feeling that the wind had been knocked out of me. Simple Life Photography became a striving to survive financially, not an expression of joy and excitement. I felt no hope in considering my chosen profession, and felt like a complete failure as an artist. Since “artist” is so much woven into my identity, it morphed into a feeling that I was a failure as a human, as just being Me. When the opportunity was presented to spend the summer up in Alaska among people who love and make me feel safe, I jumped on it. I also decided to step back and reconsider my direction.
Four months later, here is the update on my life.
In embracing and truly dealing with the hurts that I have been storing up for the past 20 years (not to mention the one that set off the chain reaction early this year), the feeling of being blocked as an artist has become increasingly frustrating. However, I am finding that living creatively can be more of a discipline than an outpouring at times. I can teach myself to live as an artist, to view life as an artist, to approach healing as an artist. If the discipline is learned, then when the outpouring comes, it will be all the sweeter.
In running a business, I have forgotten how much I love simply being a creative, a “chaser of light”. I am going to continue in my hiatus as a businesswoman for the time being. What does this mean exactly? I am just not pursuing it actively. If you would like to have photographs of your sweet babies or your wedding or growing family, of COURSE I would love to document those moments. I am just not marketing myself at the current moment.
I want to remember the reason I decided to study photography, and also music. I want to remember why these things, why the sound of a cello or the sweet harmonies of the tenor and alto voices move something within the depths. Why the light coming through the kitchen window and landing as a sliver on the table inspires. Why does the movement of the body in sync with the rhythms of words and instruments bring tears, and how is it that colors smeared together on a canvas can take the breath away?
“Particles of Light”
This phrase comes from the very same song that my business name came from.
“We’ll weave our days together like waves and particles of light,
I want only this, I want to live a simple life”
It is what I am calling my new project, my new pursuit. It sounds vague, broad, slightly undetermined. I am giving myself little assignments to do throughout the autumn and winter seasons to discipline myself and grow in the areas of creativity that I love most. Some of my assignments will be related to “The Artist’s Way”, a book on the healing of the creative by Julia Cameron. She focuses much of her book on helping writers overcome their blocks, but also helps all disciplines of the arts. Others will be simply writing, or photographing my world. Another name for my pursuit could be called “A year of creative healing”, but I do not want to put a time limit on things.
So, what does all this mean?
It means that I will remain in Alaska until further notice.
It means that I have a new project that I am exploring— through writing, photography, music, painting, cooking, crafting, teaching art and music to children— and hoping to find healing and new inspiration in the midst of it.
It means that I am processing a whole lot, and am choosing to do it publicly, in hopes that someone else can benefit from it at some point.
It means that I am planting myself in this community, putting roots here, investing in the ministries and the families, and becoming a part of them.
It means that I am making myself vulnerable to criticism.
It means that the focus of this blog is very personal, and not related to business.
Will I pursue Simple Life Photography again later?
I just don’t know. I would like to. At heart, I am an entrepreneur, born and raised by other entrepreneurs. I don’t know what it will look like later on, though, and I am hoping that in exploration, I stumble upon the “next thing”.
I have taken the summer to step back and embrace a slower type of life. A lot of quiet moments, a lot of reading, a lot of deep conversations and prayer times with friends who have quickly morphed into family. I love this village, and the community here. I love that I can hear God more clearly here, away from the noise and bustle of the city. I find that as a California girl who has never really fit in anywhere, this life in the bush strangely suits me. There are so many things to share that have come about, and I am glad to begin.
I AM an artist. That is my wiring, my identity in Christ. I am a creative made by the Creator, and inspiration comes from Him. I belong to Christ, and I want more of Him. The Source of life and outpouring is my Father in heaven, and He can restore me to wholeness.
(All photographs are copyrighted KathrynBronn2014, use by written permission only)