Today I would like to thank Tina, Amy, Ann-Christine and Patti – the hosts of the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – for a year of wonderfully inspiring challenges and for the beautiful photos they have shared with us. You’ve done a great job! Congratulations and Happy Anniversary!
Many of us were saddened when the WP Photo Challenge was discontinued last year. We would miss that push, that source of inspiration which got our creative juices flowing in surprising moments and ways. So the Lens-Artists Challenge filled that void, reuniting a friendly community by offering us a space which motivated and inspired us to share photos, thoughts, experiences and snippets of life on a weekly basis. I may not be a regular participant, I may often overshadow my photos with too many words (because writing is my primary creative outlet), but I am grateful for this safe space you, ladies, have created, thus allowing all of us to continue expressing ourselves in a way we had come to love. Experienced photographers or amateurs at the beginning of their journey, those who showcase their photography, as well as those who use images as an aid for their writing, everyone receives a warm welcome, encouragement and support here.
The four topics suggested by our hosts on this anniversary week (in case we fail to come up with something ourselves) cleverly summarize what this is all about. While it may appear a solitary endeavour, photography is all about connection. We connect not only with our subjects, but with the new places we discover, with their inhabitants, culture and history, not to mention with everybody with whom we share our images. Traveling is an endless source of discovery and inspiration, it provides us with lessons we sometimes start learning only after we have returned. We venture outside our comfort zone and we grow. Perspectives change and sometimes it becomes difficult to even choose a favourite place or even country. Paradoxically, one of the things that travelling abroad has taught me is to really look around and appreciate what happens right under my nose, at home, as well.
The way I see it, it doesn’t matter how talented we are, as long as we continue to hold on to our creative outlets, whichever those may be. Creativity keeps us from drowning, from sinking into the mud of everyday life’s ugliness and despair, it prevents us from becoming something we might later end up loathing. We mustn’t stifle our imagination, it is part of what helps us survive the most difficult of moments; it’s also how we remain young at heart and keep in touch with that playful, hopeful inner child. So every push, every source of inspiration should be taken into account and appreciated.
As I was saying, taking a photograph may seem lonely, but in my experience there’s often more than one person behind the camera; there’s a complex story unfolding behind the camera as well, not just in front of it. For me, many of the photos I’ve taken this year were about friendship, even if one doesn’t really get that from an image of a flower or a tree, etc. Learning how to use a new camera which was a Christmas gift from a close friend who understood how much I wanted it even better than I did, taking photos and sharing them, is inevitably about friendship. So is being accompanied by said friend on various occasions, so I could test and try some new things, even if neither one of us is in the picture. In a way, it adds a new dimension to our relationship as we learn and try something new together. At a time when the virtual world is so aggressive and overly critical (and we spend more and more time in this world), having a comfortable, safe, understanding and supportive space to share our creative attempts is more important than we often realize.
But what’s an anniversary without flowers? I think I’ll go with a predictable classic this week, because four wonderful ladies certainly deserve some beautiful flowers in appreciation of their efforts and creativity. Once again, thank you and happy anniversary! Here’s to many more amazing images and beautiful challenges!