Beginnings (The Unpolished Series)
I think about this year.
My journey from 39 years of age into my 40th year. How this project began, what inspired me and what I have learned along the way.
I have to admit I have learned a lot. I understand myself way more as an artist living in the moment more than ever. I see how my work has evolved and I am excited to see how it will continue to grow and change. I found my voice as a photographer, yet I know it is still developing. I see how beautiful social media can be, and the wonderful relationships that have flourished because of it. As well, how very cool it is to meet people, total strangers, in cyber-space and to share this incredible connection with them. It's very addicting, almost like tele-communication really.
I have mentioned this before that I have always found social media challenging for many reasons. I sometimes think people forget how to communicate in real-life time, I think this frightens me the most because I hope that we, as humans, don't lose our ability to tell people how we feel in person, the good, the bad and the ugly. Robots working with humans is a real thing. We live in harmony with one another. I hope, as much as we can appreciate our technological advancements, we don't lose sight of the beauty that is human communication, person to person, face to face.
I have had some difficult encounters on social media that made me feel sour about how people communicate these days. I always make an effort to keep myself in check, and in balance. I try to communicate on social media as I would in real life and be mindful. I often check in with myself, log off and leave my phone at home for days at a time, or check it in the evening, sort of like my screen time as I don't watch Television as often.
More importantly, for me it's all about going inward, being present, and when I am ready and have time, I get on my Instagram feed and on my other social media feeds. This is challenging for me, as a photographer. My work is all about capturing the "moment ", but I know that I need to respect the fact that I also need to just 'be', to try to exist without a device in hand. To be off-camera. I realize it's not ideal to gain more followers, or get more likes, and/or I may miss something on-camera, etc., but I find that this is okay for me. I have learned, and this is my own personal reflection, that keeping myself balanced is most important. To actually unplug. Having a device around me all the time actually effects me, and this isn't the case for everyone, I am just really sensitive. I also think about how it affects children.
How much they see adults and/or care-givers plugged in. I have witnessed some terrible things with people on their devices. All of which, for myself, makes it important for my own kids to see my face, hear my voice, see me be 'present' in any shade instead of continually seeing me check out on a device. I also share things with them on my device. All in all, I really try to keep it balanced which is challenging. Now, knowing all of this it is the very reason this 365 project was the most difficult for me. It exists in this space where we have an incredible immediacy to be able to communicate with the world, showcasing our lives, our art, our ideas and more, which is incredibly profound. Yet it can also take you away from the moment because you are documenting it and not really living it. It's a crazy yin-yang and I know not everyone agrees, but for me, I struggle with this. I wish I was totally ignorant and it didn't bother me. I can actually feel it in my entire body when I need to unplug. When enough is enough, which is a good thing. I find social media can also be a lot like gaming. Okay, so with all of this yin-yang stuff, I dove in head first knowing exactly what I was up against and what I struggle with.
I began this project for myself. To challenge myself on many levels. The first was to try to welcome my own heart, voice and images everyday by turning the spotlight on myself, which is very hard for me to do. I have found this easier to do because of this project. I have realized I am sharing my life with people who care and appreciate my words, or images or both. Who feel connected to me, or inspired by me. And for this, I think it to be wonderful. I inspire others as much as they inspire me.
Also, I find it much easier to work in collaboration with others, so this project was by far one of my most challenging projects simply because it was just me. My camera and my life every day. I took some days off so I could be more present with my family. Sometimes when my family and/or I spent time away, or I had my iPhone handy instead of my DSLR, I created "moments inside my daily project" to keep it real, light and fun. I didn't want to burn out either, which can be easy to do on a project that you work on every day!
I have met, on this 365 day venture, many beautiful souls and their hearts. Various social media platforms are great for sharing, but the connections I have made on Instagram are the most rewarding. I truly love it. I have also found the beauty of letting go, sharing my photos honestly and from a raw place. Creating from where I am, not from where I want to be. I admit it was hard to begin this way, just opening up my heart with the world, my followers, but as the days past my voice grew stronger in photographs and in words. I also didn't want to overwhelm people with my thoughts, but then, I realized this was for me, about me, I posted what felt real, what felt honest, and now I understand that we are all here to share our hearts together. To inspire those who feel connected and it doesn't have to be many.
Not all of my photos shared during my 365 project were taken on my DSLR camera but some were captured on my iPhone7, and my Instax mini 90. I feel that all cameras do something very different for me as an artist. One is more delayed, while the other is more immediate obviously. With my DSLR I get to sit with the RAW digital file in front of me on my big computer screen a while after I captured it, which I love specifically because it looks so different from that little screen on my camera. While the other, my iPhone7 and Instax mini have an immediacy that lives in a different creative space. It's almost like comparing the creating process of a painting (DSLR) and comparing it to the creating process of a drawing (iPhone7, Instax). At least this is the case for me.
Holding my DSLR camera has a very different feel compared to holding my iPhone or Instax. My phone is so much easier to capture with hands down because it's way lighter, all is done and ready for you to snap away which I love. Because I shoot in manual mode 95% of the time on my DSLR, I can appreciate the ease of an iPhone. When shooting with my DSLR I try to do as much as I can while I am capturing the moment before the editing process. Truthfully, and I think this is true for most DSLR photographers, it is really amazing to see the RAW images come up in Lightroom and/or Photoshop. To play with them there. To watch how you can re-create a moment. I always try to keep my work looking as real as possible because that's what I love most, but it so cool to tweak the brightness, create light, add contrast and more. I can really appreciate both sides to this creating process.
I created this short video of some of the photographs I captured during this 365 day project. I geeked out heavily these last few weeks over a variety of music, but specifically "Time" by Hans Zimmer. My poor family heard this track to many times! Anyhow, I thought I'd take you as much as I could into my editing world, maybe you can feel what I feel. This track is completely epic, but this 365 project has really been a huge feat to tackle with all of the things that I mentioned that I struggle with.
Before you leave me, I wanted to thank you for watching me grow, change and become more myself this year through photograph and words. I love you all very much.
Love: Jo xoxoxo
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