My year-long mentoring program – The Documented Heart – is meant to walk alongside photographers of all kinds as they complete a documentary365 project (that’s a photo a day – 366 in this case!) Every week I send some thoughts via email to this year’s group – everything from technical tips to pep talks – as we all make our way through the year of photos.
This is a rare time to be completing a 365 – when nothing in the world is routine, and we’re all navigating such raw territory. I shared the thoughts below with the group this week, and I wanted to give them a more permanent home on the website too.
“It’s just hard to imagine anything going back to business as usual.”
That was the text I got from a photographer friend of mine this morning, and it made me pause for a long while. 2020 has been a decade of a year.
Like you, I’ve been reading. Learning. Donating. Unlearning. Following. Listening. Looking to re-anchor the world in a vastly reimagined way despite deeply painful truths that are being revealed all around us.
It may not seem relevant as part of leading a 365 project, but it’s important for me to say this out loud: I believe that black lives matter. Black creators matter. Black storytellers matter. Also important to say out loud: I have taken way too long to get from those words to tangible action, and I’m still learning what those actions need to be.
I am also learning that part of my job as a human and a parent and a photographer and a coach, is to work actively and purposefully on anti-racist efforts in my home, my business, and beyond. This isn’t work to be done performatively in the online space – it’s everyday work in my own life to be more inclusive and more vocal.
I’m going to fail, and say the wrong thing more than once, but I’m committed to doing and being better for the long haul. And the only way to do it is by showing up every day, albeit imperfectly. Please, keep me accountable.
The past week I’ve been asking myself why this 365 project matters in light of everything unfolding in the world. When there is so much grief and so much upheaval, why do we take these daily photos anyway?
Because even in monumental times, our days are impermanent. How we spend today will not be the same tomorrow. Even in the midst of such dramatic change in the world around us, there will still be laundry to do and coffee to be made and a dinner table to be set and soil in the garden to which we must tend. It is our anchor and attention to these daily rituals and routines that help make changing the larger world possible.
When we photograph who and what we are today, we leave space for what we might become tomorrow, and we honor the journey in between.
Halfway through this project, I truly believe that there has never been a better time to honor our journey and lean into the daily practice of capturing the truth of our everyday lives, of attending to our ability to be present. Even in a year such as this.
Especially in a year such as this.
This week, turn your heart and your lens inward. Look around your life and ask how we can see better – how we can be better – in this time of evolution.
Friend, let your photos be the evidence that you kept showing up, even in this season.
Especially in this season.
For Accountability’s Sake: Here’s How I’m Starting to Take Action
(and I’m just getting started!)
+ Books on my nightstand: How to be an Anti-Racist, Ibram X. Kendi; White Fragility, Robin Diangelo; Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Ibram X. Kendi; Me and White Supremacy, Layla F. Saad
+ Dollars: financial support for Black Mamas Matter Alliance, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center
+ Enrolled Education: Dr Tomayia Colvin and Layla F. Saad
+ Podcasts: Race Traitor, Change Cadet, Come Through, On Being
+ Professionally: Seeking out black photographers to refer clients to; ensuring I create a safe space for all my clients, including those who identify as BIPOC and LGBTQIA
+ IRL: Where can I spend my dollars and physically show up to show my support? What conversations could I start within my friend and family circles?