"Seeing is believing." A common phrase, though not one I often use, has entered my awareness recently.
It's gotten me thinking about what photography means to me, and how vital it has been to my own healing.
Photography has been a large part of my life. I remember growing up with a mantle full of old cameras to marvel at, and my father always documenting from the corners of the room so as not to disturb the moment.
I remember bringing disposable cameras to camp and on field trips at school and being overjoyed at the prospect that I'd be able to make a photo album to look at again and again. That I'd be able to revisit the joy I experienced in those moments of connection with my friends.
I remember how excited I was to get my first digital camera. Running around taking photos of everything that caught my eye in every which way I could fathom. How exciting it was to have a seemingly endless number of exposures. An infinity of possibilities. I loved to play the game of, "how many ways can I see this flower?"
Eventually, I started taking photos of myself.
Perhaps the full backstory is a post for another day, but to put it briefly, I experienced a lot of trauma that led me to believe I was unworthy, unlovable, unwise, unsafe, and ugly. These belief systems were deeply ingrained in me. They were all I knew. All I trusted. False beliefs became the only lens through which I saw the world.
I forgot about my universal nature - my creative nature - literally proclaiming I'd never be an artist.
Today I see we are all artists. We are all co-creators of reality. And we get to choose what we see.
But for a time, my heart was closed. My eyes were closed. My body was breaking down. I existed in a space in which it felt more comfortable to hide from myself than to see who I really was.
I'm not sure exactly what compelled me, but one day, with tears streaming from my eyes, I started taking photos of myself. I hadn't cried for years. I used to hate crying, labeling it as "bad," and "too emotional." But on this particular day, it was fascinating. I allowed my natural curiosity to take the lead.
Curiosity, in my experience, is the medicine that pierces through false beliefs when I am willing not just to look, but to see what is right before me. And creativity is the path toward freedom. So as I continued to take photographs of myself in different states of being, I started to see myself in the way I had once seen flowers. Taking in all the angles. All the pockets of beauty I might have missed if I was moving too quickly.
Through self-portraiture, I began to see the beauty in all of my expression. I slowed down enough to fully experience what was happening in my body. And one by one, I replaced the beliefs that I was unworthy, unlovable, unwise, unsafe, and ugly. I replaced them with love and gratitude for my whole self, because, quite literally, I became willing to SEE my whole self.
Today I am grateful for the eyes through which I allow myself to truly see. The infinite number of lenses I have access to. The curiosity that drives me forward. And the creativity through which I play with and create universes.
I invite you to start looking at yourself and the world around you through different lenses. What are you willing to see? Where do you stop yourself from seeing? What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments below <3