Photo-Heart Connection: February 2014

Who knows what the future holds?

Winter Snow Tree Corvallis Oregon

I don’t. It’s but a faint line on the horizon. I can see the here and now, what is. I can see possibilities for the future, what might be.

To reach the future, I have to move into uncharted territory. Into the blank, unwritten part of my history.

I have plans and goals, but where the path I start on will end is still unformed. And that’s ok.

It used to be, I needed to be able to see the end before I started. I needed to know how it would all come out. But that road of expectations led to disappointment, more often than not. Because the end didn’t look like I had envisioned. The path didn’t always turn out to be the one I really wanted or needed to walk on.

Where I used to want predictable outcomes, I am ok now with a faintly formed outline of what might be. I am ok with changing my direction partway through. I am ok with not knowing.

Maybe this is a by-product of age; of maturity. Maybe it is a by-product of experience.

Because now I know, the end is often more interesting than what I could envision. And the journey is where all of the fun happens anyway.

I don’t need to know what the future holds. I just look out at that faint line on the horizon, and go.


My Photo-Heart Connection this month puts into words a change that has been slowly creeping over me for the last five to ten years. Turning from a driven, goal-oriented go-getter, always striving for the next achievement to someone who enjoys the journey and doesn’t mind winding my way along. Someone who doesn’t mind changing or abandoning a goal if it no longer suits. I’m now more in tune with myself, and what my heart wants. I don’t live my life for others, or for dreams of the past. I see all of that in this photograph, with it’s clear foreground tree and faintly visible horizon. I love that I can pull this out of my art, my heart.

What is your Photo-Heart Connection this month? What is your heart connection, in any art form? Here’s my approach to finding the Photo-Heart Connection:

  1. Identify all of the image I worked with this month. I don’t look through every single image I captured with my camera, but the ones I decided had potential and I edited. The sorting through of the raw images to edit throughout the month is really the first step of my Photo-Heart Connection, I don’t need to do it twice.
  2. I place them all in one location, in this case it’s a special folder on my hard drive where I export copies.
  3. Then, in the quiet of the early morning, I look through them on a black background and see what kind of emotional response I have. If there is no emotional response at all, I delete. Generally, the first time through more than half are eliminated. There are always a few that start to bubble to the top.
  4. As I get to these few that “bubble up” as having a stronger connection than the rest, I usually take a break. Go refresh my tea, and see what sticks in my mind. What words come out to describe the feelings that are coming with the remaining images.
  5. When I sit down again, it’s usually with a top two or three. I look through them, feeling each one and the words that come. From there, I can usually tell which one is coming out on top, from the feeling of both image and words.
  6. I start my blog post, add the picture and usually start with the few words that were with me as I made my decision, and then I write. I let the story emerge, as if I’m telling it to myself. What you see in the posts is the result.

Your approach to the Photo-Heart Connection is likely different. That’s ok, there is no right or wrong. Maybe this month, as you go through and do it, you can share your approach with us along with your February Photo-Heart Connection. Then we can all learn a bit more… about you, and about this wonderful process.

Photo-Heart Connection: January 2014

 
Stretching. Reaching. Celebrating.

Kat Sloma Tree Photograph

Grounded in the earth, stretching for the sky. I see in this image a joyous uplift of arms, opening up in celebration, releasing and connecting with something beyond.

The thought of “reaching” has come up for me multiple times in the pieces I’ve created this month. But I don’t see this reaching as a yearning for something just beyond grasp, but a stretching to become part of something bigger than the individual. To acknowledge and celebrate something greater than the self. Heart open, receiving what the universe has to offer.

We did tree pose in yoga this month and it felt like this: Beautiful and solid, to be rooted into the ground, yet lifting and reaching to the sky. Flexible, moving, yet stable. It make me feel connected to the trees, the beauty and wisdom they hold, even more than before. It made me connect to the reaching of the branches I’ve seen in my art in all month.

So, the trees have a lesson for me, once again. My son asked me this month if I would stop with the trees, already.

Nope, I answer, they aren’t finished with me yet.

It could be a good long while.


Do you ever approach the Photo-Heart Connection with trepidation? Do you ever skip it, because you feel like you don’t have time, you don’t have images, you aren’t sure you want to hear what your heart has to say? Believe me, I understand. There are so many times I want to skip doing the Photo-Heart Connection for all of those reasons and more. But I can’t, because I’m the host, and so I do it. And you know what happens? Every time, no matter what fears crept up, what resistance I felt… I sit down, push all of that baggage aside, and find a message. Something I needed to hear. Sometimes encouraging, sometimes scary. Always honest and open and straight from the heart.

As we head into 2014, the third year of PHC, I encourage you to make a commitment to do the Photo-Heart Connection every month. There are seven days for the link up for a reason. You have flexibility to do this on your time. Clear out space in your schedule and your head and join in. And then, if you would like, share it with us here.

PS - Don't miss the giveaway I have going on now! Enter by Monday, February 3rd.

Photo-Heart Connection: December

 
Simplicity. Lines. Space.

IMG_0977

Since travelling to Singapore in the spring and now China and Taiwan in December I have felt a growing affinity to asian art and themes in my work. I love the lines of bamboo, the circles of lily pads, and the spare brushstrokes and space found in sumi-e paintings. I’ve been searching out sumi-e art online and studying which styles and techniques resonate with me.

It’s amazing what can be expressed in a few lines in space: Beauty, peace, grace.

While I strive to achieve the same effect in a photograph, I often can’t. I can’t always get the right angle. The background may be distracting. There is no space to be found.

And so this month, I tried something new. I created the lines in space myself. This image is a digital painting created start to finish on my iPad. It’s inspired by a photograph I took of bamboo, but it’s not a photograph. Much as I love photography, there are moments of frustration that I can’t capture what I want. There is a freedom in creating from scratch, and leaving things out. It allows me to express myself when the photograph just isn’t quite right.

Simplicity. Lines. Space. They call to me.

A new direction? Maybe. Or just an expanding of the circle. There is space in my art for all manners of expression to coexist.


Happy New Year! I’m back home from my holiday travels. I was gone for the last two weeks visiting family in Colorado. It was a much needed rest and now that I’m back home I find that I’m ready to take on the world again. Whew. I was worried there, for a while. December was rough, from a creative perspective, as you can probably tell from my sparse postings. But having the time to relax and start creating again at the end of the month was just what I needed. It allowed this new direction, the interest in sumi-e painting and exploration of digital painting techniques on my iPad, to emerge.

On my trip I created photographs and played with digital paintings alike, finding it a spectrum of expression that bleeds together from one end to the other. After creating a base painted image I used many of my usual photo apps to add color and texture to achieve the desired effect. It all connects, I couldn’t have created this without the knowledge and techniques I’ve developed in my mobile photography. So that’s why this non-photograph is in the Photo-Heart Connection. I’m not going to draw imaginary lines on what art is allowed or not allowed in this practice. It’s all my art, and if it has a heart connection, something to teach me, that’s all that matters. I’m done with placing things in imaginary boxes and drawing lines around them saying what “is” and “isn’t” allowed. I threw out those rules last year.

So if you’re not a photographer, join in with us too. What matters is the heart connection in your art, not the medium it was made with.

How was December for you, creatively? What connected to your heart, in this dark time of the year? Share it with us. The link up will be open through January 12.

Photo-Heart Connection: November

Hope. Sadness.

PHC-November

Two sides of the same coin? Perhaps. I see mostly hope with some sadness on one side, sadness with bit of hope on the other. They touch in the center. They echo each other; reach one to the other.

Can you have one without the other? Is the experience of one healthy without the other? For sadness, alone, seems to me depression. And hope, without sadness to temper it, is delusion.

Perhaps the best is when they touch in the center, balancing each other out. Hope and sadness. Sadness and hope.


Well, my Photo-Heart Connection this month is filled with melancholy, isn’t it? I couldn’t decide between the two images this month. They seemed to go together, and reflect one another. When I listened to the words they whispered, it was the mirroring emotions of sadness and hope. I don’t quite understand why I needed this message today, but I’m not going to try to analyze further. This is just the message from my heart this month. It will be clear in time.

What is your Photo-Heart Connection telling you this month? Does it speak of sadness? Hope? Or something altogether different? Link in here and share with us.
Please note I won’t be by to visit until later in the month, after the link up closes. I’m off to China and Taiwan on a business trip this week, and I’ll catch up when I’m back.

Photo-Heart Connection: October

There is beauty in autumn. And no, this time I don’t mean the vivid colors that some trees and plants use to herald their demise. I mean the quiet beauty of transition.

The beauty of a graceful exit.

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I love the lines of the bare trees of winter, that is no secret. But as this fall has progressed, I’ve enjoyed the emerging lines which are accentuated with the receding leaves. Some leaves go out in a blaze of glory, falling from the tree en mass in their bright colors, still flexible and pliant until days on the ground. One day the tree is full, the next it is bare. It’s startling. But other leaves age in place, slowly and quietly making their transition, losing a bit of themselves here and there with a whisper until one day they are all gone.

It’s these leaves I’m noticing. They speak to me of tenacity. Of a will to continue, even with the inevitability of the end. And wow, aren’t they beautiful? In their demise, they are so graceful. They accentuate the beauty of the bare tree beneath, rather than covering it, as the summer leaves do. It’s almost as if this is their finest hour, their greatest contribution. This is when the tree and leaf are truly one. They tell me that a tree is not either/or, bare or full, it’s both. I can see both seasons, appreciate both, together in this brief moment. These leaves chastise me in my wishing for one or the other; in my desire to hurry or slow time. They remind me there is only this moment. Can I not see?

This time, as any other, I look to the trees for lessons. This season’s lesson for me: How to appreciate the transition. Regardless of what is coming, it can be approached and experienced in the moment, with grace.


“Graceful” is a word that keeps coming to me, over and over, to describe the lines that I want to capture in my photographs. The way I want to live my life. Lately, I see grace all the time in the lines around me, whether it’s in the trees or the sand or extension of a human hand. This month it’s been especially clear to me in the transition of the seasons, as my Photo-Heart Connection expresses. It seems so dramatic to say this, but I ache for the beauty of it all. I do. I am deeply touched by the grace I see in the face of inevitability. I want to have that kind of stoic strength in my approach to the transitions of life. I observe it, I photograph it, and I know I fall short. But I keep going, hanging on, working toward that kind of being. I wonder: Do you have to first see, before you can be?

What is your Photo-Heart Connection this month? Do you see deep longings or light playfulness in your photographs? Your heart is telling you something. Explore the message. Share it with us here.

Photo-Heart Connection: September

 
The world does not exist, beyond the edge of the frame.

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There is only this place. This time. These lines, of my choosing.

Why does there need to be anything else? Throw your worries away. Shrug off the burdens that are carried on your shoulders. Within this frame, they don’t exist.

There is only this place. This time. These lines, of my choosing.


With this month’s Photo-Heart Connection, I’ve realized that one of the personal themes I’ve been exploring the last couple of months is my role as a photographer. How I, as a photographer, can see and shape the world around me. How I have a choice. It started with exploring the role of the photographer in the creation of a photograph, then moved on to my discoveries about myself as a photographer, then through my personal journey as an artist, and now today’s Photo-Heart Connection. All have been leading to me to this place of deeper understanding about myself as a photographer and an artist: Everything is of my choosing, from picking up the camera in the first place to presenting it here. It is incredibly powerful to realize the control being a photographer grants me! When there are things outside my control, I still have this ability to gather up pieces of the world, completely of my choosing.

What does your Photo-Heart Connection have to tell you this month? Share it with us here.