I spent last week swinging in my hammock chair ruminating on the year that ended and dreaming all the things for the one that just began.
It was the first time in over four years that I’ve had an open space in my schedule for just thinking, hoping, and dreaming – no shoots, no weddings, no work really at all.
It was completely and utterly magical. Maybe simply because it involved a hammock chair.
I took long walks, unpacked boxes from our move over a year ago, found new treasures to love, created new happy places in our house, took an adventure into the city, and could actually be present with friends and family to celebrate and get cozy. I took personal photos for fun for the first time in months.
If I’ve learned one thing from 2016 about doing my best work, it’s just how important leaving space for magic truly is. Definitely a lesson I had to learn the hard way.
Truth is, I’m terrible at leaving empty space in my life – most especially in my schedule. Having unplanned time really and truly terrifies me.
It terrifies me during a photo shoot or wedding that if we have extra time it will look like I don’t know what I’m doing or that I missed an important photo.
It terrifies me that if I have free time, people will think I’m not actually working and that I’m not good enough to be hired.
It terrifies me that having empty space in my house looks unfinished, incomplete, and it keeps me from inviting loved ones into my happy place.
It terrifies me to have an unplanned day of travel because what if I get lost or can’t find something fun?
But here’s a truth that life taught me again last year, as it has so many times before:
There is always room to grow in an empty space. There’s no room to grow when your space – brain, home, calendar, or otherwise – is too crowded.
Magic needs space. It needs wonder. It needs curiosity. It needs inspiration. It needs fresh air.
I grow creatively only when I leave space for magic.
It is always when I’m not sure what’s next that the greatest adventures find their way into my world and push me to do something different than I’ve ever done before.
It’s on wedding days with generous timelines that I have freedom to do my best work.
It’s vacations where things aren’t rushed and when everyone involved is present that I create my favorite images – because I have time to play and space to listen to the joy in my heart.
I don’t know what magic looks like for you, but for me it means experimenting and trying something new – a new camera, a new place, a new activity, a new medium, a new adventure. It means room to fail, to experiment, to tweak…all in the name of exploration and fun.
Some new things I’m trying in 2017:
// Photographing things other than weddings…like yoga, fashion, jewelry, interiors, travel and lifestyle things. And sharing more of it right here.
// Creating visual content for creative people and brands. Last year’s shoot for Sephora was one of my faves…I love coming up with playfully creative photos for social media + websites!
// New (and different) cameras. Like Polaroids, and film, and even new digital cameras that are discreet and fun to use on the go. The best camera is always the one you have with you – and having a good one in your pocket is now easier than ever. And learning to use a new or different tool makes me better at my craft.
// Making photos in new places, with new (and the very best of old) friends. Palm Beach, Palm Springs, Oregon, and New York City are all in the cards for the first three months of the year…and hopefully a few more to come after that.
// Going with the flow. Saying yes, even when I don’t have a fully flushed out idea. Less worrying about a lack of inspiration or not having an abundance of projects and more openness to following my intuition – which might mean just reading a few more books in my hammock chair.
I know we all grow in different ways – how about you? Do you grow with space or with hustle? Where do you want to grow in 2017 and what is one thing you want to try? Please tell me in the comments, so I can cheer you on!
*In the spirit of trying new things, this post was suggested by Light.co, makers of the Light L16 camera. The L16 will lend itself to capturing candid moments due to its small size and advanced technology (using a technique somewhat reminiscent of an in-camera bokeh panorama, but with multiple lenses). All thoughts and opinions are my own.