Over the past year I have been shooting a lot of photos from around Gloucester. It began when I started using my iPhone as a camera. I also have a Canon T5i that gets lugged around the county to snap shots of sunsets, landscapes and landmarks. And kids. Plenty of kids. Here's three things that I've discovered about what happened when I started shooting photos and the surprising things that resulted when I launched a new creative passion.
1) What you will find when you take the time to get out in nature will surprise you.
I started shooting photos after getting on Instagram and fighting a sense of inadequacy. I have friends out in Oregon who were posting these amazing landscape shots -- majestic snow-capped mountains and rushing rivers and desert sunrises -- and I felt like I had to compete somehow. But how? We have no mountains here -- the highest point here is like 60 or 80 feet above sea level, unless you count the 90 feet height of the Coleman Bridge as you enter Gloucester -- our rivers are amazingly wide but languid and the closest desert is thousands of miles away. So I started exploring. Living on a peninsula has its advantages. The sunsrises and sunsets on the rivers are spectacular. The trees and foliage tell stories. The frequent storms usher in extraordinary cloud formations that refract light in stunning ways and are enhanced when they are reflected off the water. There are hidden treasures and gems off the beaten path; historic homes and crumbling plantations and weathered houses. I've learned a ton about watching sunsets and the timing of the most glorious light. You'll be surprised. You'll be amazed. Your life will be enriched when you get out there.
2) Exploring creativity opens paths of more creativity.
When I started shooting photos and thinking about settings, sunlight, natural light, reflections, angles and other aspects of photography, I've found it started opening doors to other creative avenues in my life. By no means am I an accomplished photographer. I want to make that clear. I have friends who are professional photographers and it's a huge leap from what I do to what they do amazingly well. But in my own little way I'm exploring something new and trying to stumble through learning a craft. Perhaps it's the time I'm taking to appreciate the scenery God has given us in this little corner of the world that is spurring other creative juices. Whether it's dabbling in making videos, writing, woodworking and making a coffee table out of 60-year-old reclaimed hardwood flooring, I've found that creativity feeds creativity. There's just something that happens when you start stimulating your brain in new ways. Challenge yourself. Take the time to find something new to take on. You'll be surprised.
3) You will feel, and be, blessed.
Being out in nature has renewed my love of God's creation. He's made so many beautiful places and we all should spend more time enjoying them. It's also been a time for me to meditate on God's word, to pray, and to think about how richly God has blessed me. The other night when I had five of my boys down on the pier at the beach in this lovely, peaceful setting was one of those times. We made a memory and those last forever. There are times I've looked up in the sky near sunset and saw the clouds and the way the light is arcing through the sky and told Julie or some of my kids to get in the van because we're heading down to the river to enjoy the sunset. As I've worked on my coffee table I've been able to listen to sermons from pastors and I've thought deeply about what He's doing in my life and where He's taking me and how I need to yield more to His will in my life. Creative time can be periods of slowing down, assessing and reflecting. I experience a recalibration, a deeper understanding of what's valuable. First and foremost of value to me is my relationship with God and the eternal gift He has given us of His son Jesus. My family is a gift from God. What I experience, all of it, is a gift. I am thankful. I am blessed.
Finally, here's a link to a collection of photos I've taken from around Gloucester that I assembled in a video. The music is kind of cheesy ... oh well. Enjoy. Gloucester vignette