“We have found grief to be an ocean. At first stormy, with huge waves crashing over what remained of our lives. As the years pass the big waves come less often. There are always waves. Mostly smaller ones now. But the big ones still roll in from time to time. They still knock us off our feet.
"So we get up. Curse our misfortune, because we remember the love.
We re-built as you are re-building. The early chapters of the new-normality were often confusing. How can I be laughing with friends? Why am I sitting at my desk and earning my living? Is any of that really important? Of course – it is. As you are discovering.”
That was a message from a friend recently. It was funny because I read it in the middle of a break I was taking from editing the picture above. I realised those waves were pixels in front of me, and I was carving a woman out of its peak, like a petite statuette rising out of a geyser, up and out toward the height of the glamorous chandeliers. Amidst the mist and with rocks all around, she reigns. A much more beautiful rendition of grief, perhaps, but then – I’ve had beautiful moments.
As my tumblr blog so far has been about love, life and loss as much as it’s been about photography, it seems perfectly fitting to continue in this vein, even when talking about my job. This is the image from our Creative Live shoot, where I spoke for 3 days and shot on location in the ballroom of The Ruins, a beautiful private dining club, all live over the internet. From artistic to technical, business to philosophical, I presented a 3-day amalgamation of everything I am as a photographer these days, and how I got here. The ‘grand finale’ image above brings together all the pieces of the production puzzle: styling, lighting and surreal post-production.
How did I come to be on Creative Live? Standing talking for 3 days in Seattle was the last place I expected to be in March 2014. Pregnant for most of 2013, I thought that this month would be the time I only just creep out from complete babymoon hibernation into considering photography related pursuits. But our lives followed a different path and from late September, Matt and I found ourselves in a spurt of planning for things we never thought we’d be able to do so soon, for our future no longer allowed our sweet baby physically within it.
Standing up from the initial ravages of shock we started to colour in early 2014 with projects we’d have to breathe our own new life into. And Creative Live was one of them. The plans began; after a Skype call with George Varanakis and then intro to our producer Lelia Tran, the wheels set in motion for what we wanted to be a true reflection of the way we work: an exciting couture shoot on location, and ‘Imaginative Fashion Photography’ was born.
In the fortnight before Christmas, Evan came, went and touched my soul forever. What was supposed to be the best ever Christmas of our lives was a cancellation of festivities at all, spent instead snorkelling in Egypt and sinking into the reality of the loss of our first child, then moving onto a task like no other: preparing endless presentations for Creative Live; contract signed, flights booked in and no turning back. The pressure was on, but no fear was felt: for I’d already done one of the most difficult things a woman could do. Who cared for speaking live to the world through the internet?
It was not long before March was here, and wrapping my heart band round my wrist – with the other half snug around Evan’s forever – we flew to Seattle to finally do what we had spent meals and orchard wanders over the past sea of weeks plotting and devising; in between glumness and ruminations on the universe and soul life, we’d explored our ambitions and ‘wordbusted’ inspiration, passion and success. Words that little Evan heard whilst inside me, for he’d got to hear a lot of our brainstorming for our workshop, and there were things I wanted to tell the world that went beyond what camera to use or how to edit your pictures.
Creative Live was the first trip overseas we’d had since we were plunged into a darkness we never saw coming, and it was cleansing to get out there and be immersed into CL’s ‘family’. And to speak not just on pitching and defining your photography style and business, but how our choice of livelihood pertains to meaning of life itself.
What I love about Creative Live is that it makes even the instructor rise to a monumental task; and in doing that, they learn about themselves too. On CL you have to harness a multitude of skills. And after weeks of dedicated and very organised planning, CL puts it right out there, no fannying about with months of stale editing, it’s immediate, live and real. It’s a breath of fresh air to work with such competence and opportunity for self-expression.
Without Matthew I might not have sustained the mountain of preparation there was for Creative Live so soon into 2014. He may fulfil most of the ‘left-brain’ production and organisation for our projects but it was also his encouragement to me to create; to edit pictures, to edit video, to occupy myself, that helped me ‘back on the horse’ sooner than I’d be inclined to if I were left to my own melancholic devices. That is not to say that what happened to us, to Evan, is somehow ever to ‘get over’, but rather, to help it blend into the normality of life’s pain/pleasure paradox. To understand that tears and sadness are as normal as laughter. And that death is not always horrendous but can even be beautiful and peaceful. Grief and loss need to be talked about more, and then they’re not so scary.
Going back to the first paragraph of this post, it’s intriguing to contemplate the idea that I made a picture of perhaps a deeper meaning than I thought, relevant to what I banged on about on my workshop regarding ‘right-brain’: spontaneity and subconscious coming through the making of art.
You can also view the final image larger on FB, on my FB page you will also be able to find a link to my CL course. It may air again for free in the near future and in that case I will post a link on FB.