there is a folder on my hard drive called Life Is Art. and it is full of other folders — one for each season for the last several years — of photos of our ordinary life and the people in it. they are not photos of events, just moments, or found beauty in our home, around our neighborhood, or wherever else i’ve been.
this quirky form of photo organization might be explainable by telling you that i am a Type 4 on the Enneagram. one of the hallmark characteristics of a Type 4 is a craving — perhaps even a real need — for beauty.
Whether you are organizing your living space to reflect your refined tastes or engaging in an artistic pursuit, it is essential for your sense of well being that you express your creativity.
Profound and insightful, you have an uncanny knack for transforming the dull and the ordinary into the exciting and extraordinary.
You appreciate the special, the humane and the beautiful. You like to put your personal signature on everything that you do.
and boy is this true for me. i craft my living spaces with incredible care. i choose beautiful and unique things (that doesn’t mean expensive or name brand, just things that are beautiful to ME) and have a super low tolerance for anything tacky, common, or merely utilitarian in my home. i hesitate sometimes to share this about myself, as i know it can seem snobby or shallow. and, when i photograph these details of my life and share them publicly, like on instagram or facebook, i know it might appear that i’m presenting something more perfect or posed than could possibly be real. i want to be authentic (ha! another hallmark of an enneagram type 4), so it’s uncomfortable for me to think that i’m coming across as something other than that.
but, given that i am not a painter or a crafter, life is my art form. and the reason my photographs are beautiful is partly due to the fact that i am always trying to make everything beautiful! it’s not just for the camera, it’s for my sanity. my sense of wellbeing shoots through the roof when i can create — or reorder — a lovely space and sit within it, either with people i love or by myself.
i was the girl who brought a folder full of photos, quotes, and other pretty things to my week-long summer camp each year so that i could decorate my bunk area!! seriously. as if i could not endure even a single week without beauty surrounding me, without owning and shaping a pleasing environment to rest in.
this has interesting implications for me as a photographer. see, beauty is such a large prerequisite to my creative inspiration that if i’m working with a situation/client that isn’t immediately aesthetically pleasing to me, i really have to dig deep within myself to find inspiration in the midst of that. i have to choose not to write it off as un-lovely, and instead to put on a new set of glasses that will enable me to see the beauty that is really in all of life. wherever i go, i’m learning, there is beauty to be found, whether or not it matches my personal tastes.
so then, this is also the gift that i hope to give to my photography clients, especially those who do the family photojournalism style sessions: to notice and then to capture the beauty in their ordinary lives, so that they will feel seen and celebrated and blessed with the gift of the life that they’ve been given to live. i want to hold up a mirror to them and say, “see?! do you SEE that? you, your family, your home, your life… they are truly beautiful!”
at the same time, if there’s any counsel i could give to someone who wants to take better photographs of their own life or family (a question i get relatively often), i would say start with this: see your life as art. fill your home with objects that make you feel peaceful and satisfied, dress yourself in fabrics that feel wonderful on your skin, fling open the drapes each morning so the light can come in, tidy up and simplify your rooms, cook colorful food.
as children of a Creator God, i’m beginning to allow myself to say that beauty does matter, that it is okay to pursue beauty, and that perhaps that might even be part of my offering to the world.
and that’s enough rambling from this Redeemed Type 4.
if you’re still with me, and you want to see more of my Life As Art, click here.