Photo-Heart Connection: November 2014

What comes next?

Morning Forest Silhouette Oregon Kat Sloma iPhone Photography

The dawn of each day brings a whole new range of possibilities.

I am not sure what comes next, but I am excited to find out.

My Photo-Heart Connection this month has to do with the Photo-Heart Connection monthly practice itself. I’ve decided that I will end the practice as a regular feature here on the blog as we complete 2014. This month and next will be the last of the Photo-Heart Connection link ups.

There are a variety of reasons for ending it now. With my schedule, it is becoming harder for me to complete and post exactly on the first of each month. Making that happen has become more stressful than peaceful, which is not a good state of mind for quiet introspection. I haven’t been doing the practice justice. For the last number of months, I haven’t been able to visit the participants regularly, which weighs on me as well. (I do hope you have been visiting each other.) And participation has dropped off dramatically over the last few months, probably in connection with my frame of mind around it. So I’ve been thinking… is the Photo-Heart Connection ready to end?

While was pondering what to do, my Inlinkz subscription (the link tool I’ve been using for years) came up for renewal. It seemed to be a sign. It was time to make a decision, and that decision was to not renew the subscription. I will place this lovely practice on the shelf as we head into 2015. I do still believe this is a wonderful, powerful practice. It’s brought me through much transition, moving back from Italy and into my new love of mobile photography, helping me find my heart’s path. I cherish that. Now is just no longer the time for me to commit to it each month.

I also know that when I end something, it makes space for other things to come along. New possibilities open up. I can say “yes” to what comes next, when it appears.

So with that, I’d love to invite you to join in with your Photo-Heart Connection for these last two months. Review the art you created in November and find the piece that speaks to your heart. Listen, and share it with us here, by leaving a comment and providing a link. (If your comment goes into moderation, I will get it posted as a soon as possible.)

Thanks to everyone who has participated these last three years! Let’s take this practice out on a high note.

Photo-Heart Connection: October 2014

It starts with seeing.


Every photograph, every finished image, they all start with that spark of seeing.

Seeing beauty. Seeing possibility. Seeing whatever it is I see in life.

Whether or not I take a photo, whether or not I process a photo I’ve captured, I’ve still seen. Borne witness. Captured a moment in my minds eye.

No matter how busy we are, no matter how much of a hurry we are in, we can still see and acknowledge the world around us.

That’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

One of the things I am most grateful for is how photography has taught me to see. I notice things that others don’t notice. The curve of a branch, the color variation in a leaf, the impression of a heart in the empty space. Amazing, beautiful things fill the world around us and we just have to open our eyes to see. I’ve been reminded of this as the last few weeks have been busy. Rushing to and from work and evening activities, Philomath Open Studios (come by this weekend!) and short days have meant little time for photography. But I’ve still been seeing.

My Photo-Heart Connection is a reflection of this month’s seeing, from one of the times I did have a few minutes to spare as I walked to my car in the parking lot at work, pulling out my camera and exploring the lines and colors of the autumn trees. I had been seeing them all week, and finally got that chance. The seeing for myself was enough, but capturing and sharing it with you makes it even better.

What is your Photo-Heart Connection this month? What have you seen, how has it touched your heart? Share it with us here.

Photo-Heart Connection: September 2014

Summer Oak Oregon Kat Sloma Mobile iPhone Photography

OK, I must be honest. I’m not sure if this is my Photo-Heart Connection for the month or not. We are in the final throes of our remodel, and this week all of our furniture is moved out of the living spaces in our house for flooring installation. This week everything we own is crammed into, and we are living in, our three bedrooms and the garage. We are well beyond no kitchen right now, adding no dining room, no family room, no studio, no comfy chair, no computer to the list. So getting myself ready for the September Photo-Heart Connection, carving out time and space in my creative world when my physical world is such a mess, became an overwhelming feat I just couldn’t quite manage. I hope you understand.

I don’t want to let my craziness stop you, though. I want to encourage you to find your Photo-Heart Connection this month. Assuming you have a little time and space available, find the piece of art you created that has the strongest connection to your heart and write about it. I will be gaining peace and strength from you all this month as you share your Photo-Heart Connection with us here.

Photo-Heart Connection: August 2014

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


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.