Self-Preservation Is Hard

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Self-preservation. It’s hard.


I haven’t shared any of this series yet from a few weeks ago. Not because I didn’t want to, but as per my usual MO I find it difficult to put the images into context until the time is right and the thoughts align with the photograph.


As a mum, wife, photographer, all the hats I wear, I am tired. For years, being immersed in all the things that were focussed on other people, self-care was pushed to the back burner. Historically, running was a reprieve. Fitness was a reprieve. Taking time for myself exploring in the forest was a reprieve. The beach was a reprieve. But after time, those things slip away to make room again for the needs of others.


For the last couple of years photography was a reprieve, too. It gave me a new voice. A venue to explore something that didn’t depend on anyone else. A way to be…Amy. Not a mum. Not a spouse. Not an employee, or a daughter, or a sister, or a friend.


Just Amy.


I’ve just returned from an incredible week in PEI with my photography peeps. A week immersed in this thing that I do…it was good and much needed. I had a lot of fun with some pretty terrific people. At one point in the critiques I found myself disagreeing with another photographer and human I greatly admire about hand positioning in an image. It was wonderful to have that conversation! It just reminded me that we each have our own voice in photography, and that’s a good thing!


The week was fantastic, and in the end, it just gave me the reminder that I needed – self-care has to come first.


When I initially created this photo, I was feeling that stir in my chest. The burn in my belly to say something, but I just wasn’t sure what it was. I just asked her to come over at a moments notice. I knew I wanted her to be raw. To be real. To be in position of defense. I didn’t know WHY, I just knew that that was how I was feeling.


It was important to me that her hands be postured about her face, but not in the usual way. In portrait photography, it’s commonplace to have one’s hands positioned around the head and face to reflect ‘beauty’. Most times you’ll find the hands in a lovely, aesthetically pleasing pose, touching the cheek, placed ever-so-specifically around the mouth/face/eyes. And every time I see hands in that pose, I want to move them, push them, put them in a place that feels more…I don’t know…authentic. I realize that those poses feel authentic to the photographer at hand, but it just doesn’t appeal to my personal vision. And that’s ok.


But THIS – this felt authentic.


She doesn’t have to be anybody to you. All the mud and dirt and chaos of the posture is what feels right. She’s in a demeanor of self-preservation, cracks and all.


Self-care. Self-preservation. This feels right.


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