Photo-Heart Connection: August 2014

Love Forest. Forest Love. Whichever way I write it, it’s true.

Kat-Sloma-Photography-6511

I don’t know exactly where my love of the forest comes from. I don’t know when it formed. Maybe it was as a child, camping in the Colorado woods and going off with my Dad in the wee hours of the morning to find a good spot to fish for trout. Maybe it was in my mid-twenties, when the first home we owned was right up next to an 85-acre wooded park in Colorado Springs, a respite from all things suburban around me. Maybe it was moving to Oregon in my thirties, and discovering primeval-seeming forests with towering trees, that made me feel like I was a tiny blip on the historic radar.

It’s hard to think of a time when the forest didn’t play some role as backdrop to events in my life. But it’s recent, the last two years or so, that the forest moved from backdrop in key memories to a primary character of its own. The forest has become a staunch friend, a confidante. It is always there for me, ready to receive me, however I come to it. It teaches me, in its quiet way.

The tall trees remind me that there is more to life than my little worries. They remind me to stand straight, grow roots, take nourishment. When I do, it takes more than a single storm to knock me down.

The forest reminds me that it is an ecosystem. No one part can exist without the whole. I too, am part of the system. One small part of a whole. I need to rely on those around me, help those around me, as part of the system of human connection.

There is so much more I can say about my complex relationship with the forest, but I won’t. I will cut it short. Because this image reminds me it’s been five days since I’ve been in the forest. Five days since I’ve enjoyed the scent and the quiet and the feel of being part of something greater, bigger, older than me. Five days is too long, anymore. So I’m going to go now, and visit my forest.

Love Forest. Forest Love.


I’ve photographed this heart carved into the tree along the Mulkey Creek Trail so many times, it’s not surprising it would eventually become my Photo-Heart Connection. I know it’s awful, someone defacing a tree like this. But I can’t help but love it anyway, because it seems to encapsulate my feelings about the forest so well. It’s a simple symbol in a simple place, but it brings such deep feelings of connection to me. I’m not kidding about getting out and hiking now. I’m going to wrap up this post and enjoy Labor Day morning on the trail. :)

What have you found as your Photo-Heart Connection this month? What image or art did you create this month that calls to your soul? What does it have to tell you? Go through your images from August and find the one that calls to your heart. Write about it and learn from it. Share the results with us here.


Photo-Heart Connection: July 2014

Heat. That’s what I feel in this image. The heat of summer, direct sun, scorching and uncomfortable.

And yet… the promise of coolness. Once you get away from the edges, move through that heat, there is a deep relief.

Tree Leaves Oregon Forest Summer Kat Sloma Photography

There is a saying people use where I work: “Run to the fire.” It speaks to the idea that you shouldn’t run away from challenging things, but run to them.

This image speaks to me of running to the fire. Of running to the heat, dancing at the edges where it is uncomfortable, seeing how far you can go. And knowing, always, there is a retreat to come back to. There is relief away from the hot edges.

I think you can’t fully enjoy the delicious respite of that cool retreat if you haven’t felt the heat. If you haven’t pushed yourself into the intensity of it, seen how much you can take, you can’t relish the contrast. Cool becomes cold quickly when you stay too long in the deep shade.

Run to the fire. Feel the heat. Relish the cool. It’s the contrast that makes life interesting.


It’s no surprise to me this would be my Photo-Heart Connection for July. My life is on the busy side lately, between taking on new challenges at work, in my photography world and a kitchen remodel. I’ve definitely been running to the fire, and, knowing what I have lined up, I will be hanging out near the hot edges for the next six months or so. There is a small part of me that views everything with trepidation, worried about my stress level and whether I can do it all. But there is a large piece of me that says, “Bring it on!” I know I love a good challenge and will rise to the occasion. In the end, I’ll be able to look back and see what I’ve accomplished, truly enjoying the respite of the cool shade. I am encouraged; my Photo-Heart Connection tells me I can do this.

What is your Photo-Heart Connection telling you this month? What message do you find in your images? Share it with us here, and then visit others. We all have much to learn through our photography.


Photo-Heart Connection: June 2014

Unexpected. That’s the word I woke up with today, my Photo-Heart Connection already formed in my head. The last couple of months have brought much that is unexpected my way: A new job I wasn’t looking for; a whirlwind trip to Ohio and my deep emotional response; a kitchen disaster that has left my house in a state of disrepair. I couldn’t have predicted the events that have come my way. I couldn’t have prepared.

So it shouldn’t surprise me that my Photo-Heart Connection comes unexpected this month, too. I didn’t even have to choose this month’s photograph. I knew, last night, as I prepared my photographs for review. I knew, this morning, as I woke up with a word in my head.

Amish Farm Boy Holmes County Ohio Kat Sloma Photography

I love this photograph. I think, quite frankly, it might be the best one I’ve ever created. There is something about the composition, the light, the moment, the processing, which all work together beautifully to tell a story. For some reason, it brings to mind the Vermeer painting, The Milkmaid. I remember seeing this painting in person and being utterly amazed by it. Vermeer masterfully worked with the subject, the light and shadow, and the moment to tell a story that spoke to me centuries later.

So, similarly, this image speaks to me. But of what? An unexpected moment. A story to be told. A story of life, unfolding before us. A story of people, individuals, that cross our path and change things. A story of events that happen outside of our control. The question is, are we there to live it? Are we ready to capture it, no matter how unexpected, and hang on for the ride? Are we ready to be jostled and tossed about as we are pulled along?

I am getting better at being ready. This photograph proves it. The time, the place, the moment – all unexpected. But I was there, and responded.

And I’ll be ready and open for whatever comes next, however unexpected.


These last couple of months have been a bumpy ride, it seems. I’m one month into the new job and still figuring it out. Our kitchen is now marginally usable and we are still getting quotes to decide what we are going to do next. My first art fair is barely two weeks away and I’m spending much of my time to get everything ready. I haven’t had a lot of time or energy for my blog, or anything online really. But my photographs, working with the images from my trip to Ohio early this month, have been an unexpected creative bright spot. I have gained so much personally from working with them, seeing the stories within them. Stories of my father, my family, me. I am amazed and humbled by this art form, which is constantly revealing layers of my heart and soul.

What have you discovered this month? What is your Photo-Heart Connection? Share it with us here. I want to thank you all for your continued participation. I love how, regardless of how engaged I am at the moment, you continue to do this practice for yourself and share it with this community. This is not about me, it’s about each and every one of you. Such an amazing and humbling thing to realize.

PS – You can now link in with Instagram photos! Learn more here.

Photo-Heart Connection: May 2014

I am lucky. In so many ways. I am lucky to see the sunrise most mornings. I am lucky to live where I can be in the forest within ten minutes of leaving my house. I am lucky to be able to fully enjoy the moment, the light, and share it through my photography.

Forest Oregon Kat Sloma Mobile Photography

But then I think, is it really “luck” or is it by choice? “Luck” implies I had nothing to do with the situation I am in. And that’s just not true — it’s an accumulation of choices that bring me to where I am today. Choices made 20+ years ago, 15 years ago, 5 years ago, a month ago, yesterday… They all bring me to this moment. This morning. This opportunity for more choices. What will I do with my time? My money? My energy? My heart?

I remember realizing long ago that you make your own luck. I believe “luck” is really just being prepared to take advantage of opportunities that come your way. If we leave being lucky to random chance we aren’t going to be very lucky. We have to put ourselves in the right situations to enable the things we want to happen.

I wouldn’t see the sunrise if I didn’t choose to get up early. I wouldn’t have my favorite forest paths to walk if I hadn’t gone looking for them. And I certainly wouldn’t be able to share the wonder and beauty of the forest with you if I didn’t choose to take a camera with me.

So yes, I am lucky. I have a wonderful life, filled with beauty and opportunity. And it’s through the choices I make, and continue to make, every day.


 
What a difference a month makes, huh? Last month I didn’t even have photo in my Photo-Heart Connection, as I was examining where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. My choice to hike every day have really driven my artistic and personal work this month. Revitalizing my connection with heart through art and through my time in the forest. I am reminded this month that it’s the choices I make that create opportunities for me. A good message, don’t you think?

What does your heart have to share with you this month? Share it with us through the Photo-Heart Connection. The link up will be open through May 7th.


Photo-Heart Connection: April 2014

The first thing you are going to notice in this month’s Photo-Heart Connection: For me, there is no photo. No art of any sort. I’ve not done my “homework” this month, spending the time to look for a connection. (If this is your first time in visiting, I encourage you to look at past Photo-Heart Connection posts to see what this monthly practice is all about. This month is NOT a good example!)

Rather than giving you excuses about how busy I’ve been, or how I’ve been focused on other things beside creating new photographs, or even going through the motions and picking an image to write about, I decided to spend some time examining why I’m not really interested in finding my heart connection this month. See what my heart reveals by NOT searching for a connection through my photos.

First off, all of the things I listed above are true. It has been busy and my focus this month has been elsewhere rather than creating new photographic work. But this has nothing to do with my art. From an art standpoint, I’ve never been more clear on what, how and why I create. I’ve never been more confident in what it is I’m trying to achieve in my artistic work. I’ve never been more excited to share my work with others, through speaking, exhibitions and art fairs. Connecting through my art, in person, with others. Along with creating and sharing my art in the physical world, I’m loving the connections I’m making with other local artists and how I’m becoming part of the art community here where I live.

I think my internal questions lie more in what I am doing here, online, and in other aspects of my life. How I want to engage. I came back from Italy almost three years ago with a big plan about how things were going to be, with teaching online classes and all of that. And things went according to plan for a while, until I realized I was overwhelming myself and at risk of burnout. Until I realized that the plans made in the beautiful unreality of my time in Italy didn’t perfectly fit my life as it unfolded. Those of you who have followed me through all of that have seen this change unfold, bit by bit. With this evolution, I’ve done some work to sort the questions out, but not enough. Not nearly enough.

Where I find myself this month is on the cusp of some serious personal work. It’s not so much about the art right now or what I want as an artist, but where do I want to be as a human being, a citizen of the world, a mother, a friend. I need to redefine my vision and direction, examine my values and reassess my choices across all areas of life, including this one here. I’m in week 2 of my first massively open online course through Coursera, called Better Leader, Richer Life, to help me do just that. The teacher is becoming a student for a while. It’s got me thinking, working, examining. And that’s what I need right now, I feel it deep down in my center.

I know I need the heart connection, too. Don’t worry, this practice is not going away. It’s just not right, this month, for me. As the host though, I have to post something so that you all can link in, or we don’t have the Photo-Heart Connection. This assessment of where I am and what I’m working through seemed more honest than going through the motions of the process this month, so this is what you get.

I guess sometimes the heart connection is knowing what your heart needs, without needing to look. My heart is open right now. Open, and waiting to see what comes next.


What is your Photo-Heart Connection this month? Did you look through the art you created in April, and find the one that speaks to you? Or maybe NOT find one, as was the case with me? Please share your heart connection with us here. The link up is open through May 7.

Photo-Heart Connection: March 2014

It’s all in the light. Beautiful, heavenly rays of sunshine through the blossoms.

Spring Tree Blossom Oregon Kat Sloma Mobile Photography

I photographed a lot of tree blossoms in March. As I looked through the photographs, I realized the photographs were of the blossoms, yes, but they were also of light. Sunlight in the evening, sunlight after rain. The sunlight created the beauty, as much as the blossoms on the tree.

So many of these images were taken in what now seem to be fleeting moments. A chance encounter: Me, my camera, and the right light at the right time. A week or two later, the blossoms are now fading and the rains have returned. As I look at this dazzling beauty from a couple of weeks ago, I am full. Full of gratitude, for that brief moment in time, I was able to be fully present. Full of awe, for what I was able to create out of the experience. Full of hope, the hope that spring always brings along with it.

This is what life is about, isn’t it? Brief moments of time, lived to their fullest. Noticing the sunlight on the blossoms, when it is available. Being present and active and engaged in what life offers up, every day.

This moment in time is all we have. It’s where we choose to be; what we choose to see, to capture, to do with the moment that matters.


 
This month’s Photo-Heart Connection brings me an important reminder. I so often live in the future, asking myself, “What do I have to get done next?” No matter what I’ve completed, there is always, always something else on the list. But this morning I’m reminded by light on blossoms, blossoms and light now long gone as I write this, that I can’t always be thinking about what’s next. I need to be present in this moment, living fully in the here and now, to appreciate and see what life is bringing me. This is hard for me. So very hard. I think I’ll print and hang this image of light on blossoms in a prominent place to remind me of this month’s message: Be present.

What is your Photo-Heart Connection this month? Have you been seeing the light on the blossoms, or are you struggling through some darkness? Whatever the message, it’s important to listen to your heart — it’s speaking through your art. I hope you’ll share what you find with us.