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Day 198: Unexpected Ways

When I started photography back in 2013, hardly any of my photoshoots were planned. I would grab my camera, a random costume, run outside and create some sort of image that did not contain much meaning. From me twirling in a field or leaning against a tree, creating a story was not part of my process. It went on like this for quite some years.

However, I soon realized that my images could be so much more if they only held a story. So I began to incorporate stories into every image I created and it was a slow transition to go from no story to story oozing out of every detail. Yet, it has become an intricate part of my process. Every image I have created within the past few years has held a story that has been purposefully placed into the frame.

That is, until this morning.

Over the past few days thunderstorms have been blowing through my area quite often. Yesterday morning the extremely strong winds happened to knock down a flowering apple blossom tree in my yard. The inside had slowly been rotting away for a few years, but this year it had begun to make a recovery and showed more life than usually. That is, until it took a fall in the storm.

Although it was incredibly sad to see the tree in such a state, it had become the perfect background for a photo. Yesterday afternoon, I avoided the photoshoot or thinking about an idea in general and pushed it off till this morning. So when I got up and hurried to complete the photoshoot before the sun broke through the clouds, I quickly realized I had absolutely no idea what to create.

I was flying blind without a direction. Somehow, I had fallen back into how I originally worked and realized that this image may come to be absolutely nothing. There would be no story, no meaning, nothing to make the image powerful. Yet, I went for it and shot the image.

Much to my surprise, five hours later I was staring at a completely finished image that pulled at my heart in a way I hadn’t expected it to. The image that was created without planning and edited in the shortest amount of time I have every created an image in, somehow worked out.

It doesn’t have any meaning, my brain kept telling me, there’s not story within the frame. But my heart had decided otherwise. An image I created without meaning had somehow come to mean quite literally everything. There was peace and serenity in the frame mixed with confusion. The sadness of a broken tree mixed with the beauty of its fallen blossoms.

Somehow it had become a paradox of almost every feeling and emotion known. Meaning was nestled into the safety of the branches or tangled within those same limbs. It was natural and otherworldly. Something about it doesn’t make since while at the same time is completely understandable.

It could mean everything or nothing at all.

Upon finishing the image, I had a realization. Sometimes, it’s not about having a well though out plan and an image full of meaning. While that is a very important part of making impactful art, sometimes that is not the most impactful art for your own heart and soul.

Sometimes it’s about just creating and seeing where it will lead your heart. Sometimes it’s about not knowing what you’re doing and doing it anyway because you so desperately need the process of creation in your life. Sometimes it’s about realizing the most unexpected things have a way of touching your heart in the most unexpected ways.

Until Next Time,
Lillian Merritt

“Dadirri”
(Inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. It is a ‘tuning in’ experience with the specific aim to come to a deeper understanding of the beauty of nature)

Droplets of rain that were left from the storm, slide gracefully off the white blossoms. Feelings of peace mixed with confusion, sadness mixed with beauty, stir within the branches of the tree. The world is a paradox unto itself. Meaningless while meaning everything at the same exact time.

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