The Inner Path of Photography

We yearn for the taste of the sacred…and through our cameras discover it, the world, and ourselves.

Category: Photography Tips

This is a Wonderful Day…

This is a wonderful day.
I’ve never seen this one before.
– Maya Angelou

How do we keep the freshness of our spirits and love of life when it sometimes seems we’re caught in the sameness of every day?

How do we stay in wonder?

For me, my photography practice and every day walks are my window into the mystery and beauty of life these days – no matter what is happening in my outer or inner world.

Some days I bounce out the door, looking forward to the beauty I know I’ll see. Other days I go only because I know that I’ll feel better by the time I return to the house – but still grouchily thinking that I’m tired of seeing the same old thing.

Each time, however, I’m entranced by something new. I have to laugh at myself thinking the walk would be boring. Or there’s nothing new to shoot, I’ve taken that picture before. Or, in the darkest of days: Who cares.

I care. I care about the essence of life, love, and beauty.

I care about the wind on my face, the sun that warms me, and even – sometimes when I’ve felt so trapped and alone “staying safe,” – I care about the gray rainy day that I insist on walking out in, even if for a brief fifteen minutes.

Today I walked in the glorious sunshine, the same daily walk I take along my road bordering the Hudson River. Not expecting something new, just happy to be out and breathing clear, fresh air.

I brought my camera, as usual, ready for inspiration, but not requiring myself to shoot. Listening to an interview with Brother David Steindl-Rast, a favorite monk, sharing his wise and warm perspectives on gratitude, spirituality, and the essence of life, I felt my body gradually getting into the rhythm of walking, breathing, relaxing, being.

I took pleasure in the sound of his voice and uplifting thoughts as I looked and felt my surroundings, appreciating the budding forsythia, the tiny flowering fruit trees my neighbors have planted, a handsome house that is newly built.

I started to notice – absorb – resonate with my joy of being here and now; grateful for the beautiful things that continue to happen in my life.
(I call them “small miracles everywhere.”)

I walked and waved to the few cars that passed; the drivers waved back. I waved to a couple having a video chat on their porch; smiling, they waved back.

I waved to a cat sitting on the steps of a house I’d love to live in – and no, the cat did not smile or wave back. Instead, he ran next door to his own home; startled and probably wondering who this crazy woman was, walking, walking, waving to all.

But I’m fine, Mr. Cat. I practice living in the moment, allowing pleasure.
I recognize Grace.

I photographed new things I hadn’t noticed before. I made some images I’ve shot previously but this time from a different perspective, in a different light, with a new eye. I captured new stories to tell, experiences to share.

I forgot about anything I’d been worried about, and settled into the “now,” the wonder of being.

The sun was setting and all became quiet. A red fox suddenly appeared from the marsh and dashed across the road in front of me. He ran through a yard, and into the woods in a flash.

A small white dog perked up and made a beeline towards the trees. He stopped. He sat. He waited.

After a time, the dog lost interest and trotted back to his house. The night bird sounds began.

The fox came out of the woods, crossed back over the road and vanished into the reeds.

This is a wonderful day.
I’ve never seen this one before.

*******

Image: “Tree Spirits on the Hudson (Apples)
©Heidi Straube 2020

Download the pdf of “This is a Wonderful Day”

Thank you, Maya Angelou.
Love.

Are You Feeding Your Inspiration?

“Self-Portrait: Artist at Play“, Heidi Straube, © 2011

 

NOTE TO READERS:

I wrote this article 6 years ago – and it still gives me great pleasure to remember the event, and what I learned from it. In fact, I’m going to go out and act like a kid, RIGHT NOW! I hope this inspires you to go out and do the same…

Happy Feed Your Inspiration Day!

* * * *

“It’s marvelous, marvelous! Nothing will ever be as much fun.
I’m going to photograph everything, everything!”
(Jacques-Henri Lartigue –  after taking his first photograph, age six) 

Yesterday I participated in a street painting workshop.

It was wonderful.

Three hours on a Saturday morning on a beautiful day in Houston. Eighty degrees, clear blue skies, coffee and kolaches.  Laughing and creating with my friend, enjoying being in the space of other people who were creating too, learning something new.

Later in the afternoon, I showed a picture of my “painting” to another friend.

He laughed, saying “It looks just like a kid’s picture!”

And I laughed too.  “I know, isn’t it great?”

I felt like a kid. I had had no idea what I was doing, enjoyed the process, didn’t judge the outcome…and it was totally freeing.

If you are doing the same thing every day (whether in your creative work or your life) and wondering what happened to your inspiration, try something new. Change up the routine, even if it’s going to a different place for coffee before work, listening to a new radio station on the internet, or wearing a color you don’t usually wear.

If you are feeling blocked, in the dead zone, without creative ideas or enthusiasm for life, claim and deepen your inner silence. Then also look to outside sources to nourish your soul.

We often live our lives in the same way, with the same people, and no new perspectives, support, or learning. And then we expect “inspiration” to come when we call.

Perhaps inspiration is right not to show up on command. If you were ignored, fed little, and expected to be there no matter what, would you keep on showing up?

There are many ways to feed your inspiration, and actually, what nurtures you may be totally different from someone else.

This week I realized that I needed a new inspiration “shot,” and it wasn’t going to come from my usual friends and colleagues sources. It was time to call on my outer spirit guides!

Curiosity, hunger for learning, and comradeship with kindred spirits are some of the things that feed my inspiration. So I (among other things):

* Watched a fantastic DVD, “Inspirations” by Michael Apted – Interviews with creative people talking about their creative process, work, and lives

* Looked at and read “Seasons of Light” by photographer Peter Brown, a wonderful book of images and writing

* Went to a talk at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston about Istanbul in the 16th century, learning more about Islamic art and how the miniatures reflected the culture, remembering the special time I had in Istanbul last spring, and meeting some new like-minded travelers and art lovers.

* Discovered a new photography show at the MFAH I had been unaware of, images from Heinrich Kuhn, filled with my favorite kind of photography.

* Dropped by to see some friends renovating a building, appreciating their vision and skills in creating beauty and function in a physical architectural form.

Swimming, a great cafe, and people I love enhanced the experience.

What nurtures your inspiration? What have you been neglecting?

Be good to yourself and let other sources feed you. Whether they’re new sources or old sources, make sure they are deliberate sources that you know make you alive.

Walk away from the usual, if even for an hour.

Feed and nurture your inspiration.

 

(“Heidi, first street painting,” Cameron Payne, © 2011)

Street Painting Workshop, taught by Cecilia Linayao Bio, sponsored by Via Colori, funded by Center for Speech and Hearing, Houston.

“Impermanence Through Graffiti”

Carnival © 2013 Miteff Enterprises, Nik 707

 

“Turning a Subway Car Into a Gallery, Until the Last Stop” – NY Times – 3/1/2015

Love how this artist demonstrates impermanence, creativity, and passion all in one train ride.

And you can experience it all by just going to New York City and riding the subway…Although which line will Nic 707 and his collaborators choose today?

The artist dropped his art practice, and then returned over 20 years later – an interesting story of how he circled back  to his original inspiration.

There are many ways to find your Path.

 

Image from InstaFame Phantom Art
Artist: Nic 707, © 2013 Miteff Enterprises

“Peace and Grace”

hstraube_2014_Peace_and_Grace

Sometimes the comforts of
Peace and Grace
come upon us from unexpected places.

Be open to your gifts.
Softly embrace…Surrender.

Image: “Unexpected Grace”
2014, Heidi Straube

Photographer Note:

I created this image at a time when I was sad and lonely, walking the shoreline thinking I was done with this particular location – for living as well as making photographs. The sea had not held the magic for me in the way I had expected, and that had been a disappointment.

I basically gave up – surrendered to the fact that it just wasn’t the right match for me and there would be other places…and then the light shifted and this sole fairytale house on the island was illuminated, the tree form embracing.

My world shifted – the strange beauty seduced me – my heart opened to peace, grace, love.

I know Spirit – Love – Beauty of Life – is always there, waiting for me.

Heidi

If you need some nurturing today, perhaps you’ll find grace in my reading of my photo-poem, “Surrender.” The poem and photograph, with the audio link at the end, can be found here. Other photo poems and mini-meditations here.

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