Where Dreams Go

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The opening song of Gods and Generals has offered a few themes for me over the last several years--themes of hope and sorrow, joy lost and gained, and memories of times long past. From the song's opening line, I was enchanted with the song.

"They say there's a place where dreams have all gone..."

I heard the song for the first time the week after Grandma died. In a time when I had lost what seemed to be all my dreams, and my past and my hopes for the future, the longing in the song echoed the pain of loss in my heart.

But today, it's the second line of the song that comes to mind:

"They never said where, but I think I know..."

Pete and I made a decision shortly after we got married last year that I would try the photography for a year, and see what happened. Now, almost a year later, I've seen what has happened.

Over the last several months, taking pictures has grown more and more difficult, even as I schedule more weddings and bring in more money. I don't want to pick up a camera. I don't want to sit down and edit to get stuff out in a certain time period. The more I do, the more tired of it I get.

A few weeks ago, I officially entered the "business" world of photography, assisting a great photographer at a wedding in Richmond. It was an awesome experience, working with someone who had shot so many weddings, who knew how to use a camera on the first try, who was so diligent in following the guidelines he'd been given.

But it wasn't my experience. I was on the outside. I was looking on, not really needed, not even wanted by the couple whose wedding we were photographing. I knew their names. She had an overbite. He was very friendly. The flower girl ran screaming down the aisle after her bridesmaid mother.

I wasn't connected. I was an outside observer, merely another face in the crowd. Someone who could get in the way and mess things up.

It took messing them up for me to realize that this isn't what I want. My photography, the pictures I take--they're not a means to an end. They are the only way I have to capture the beauty that I see. Sure, people will pay for what I capture, but I've been so bound by the idea that I have been "hired" that I can't even see the beauty anymore. I look for the drama, the unique, the action--and I miss the wonder.

Because I don't wonder at it anymore. I have a mental checklist. "Come on, get this shot! Oh, grab that now! What would _______ professional photographer do?"

But I discovered at this wedding that I don't want to be a professional photographer, always worried about church guidelines and being allowed back into a location to shoot. I don't want to capture dramatic pictures that say nothing about the people I am photographing.

So after a year's attempt, I think God is leading me away from the world of professional wedding photography. My pictures are a gift--a gift from the Lord to me, a way of seeing the world the way He sees it sometimes, a way of sharing that world with others.

On our anniversary, Pete and I ended up in Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is an amazing city, but I didn't pull my camera out once. I didn't have the heart for it. But as we were driving across the bridge to the mainland, the light from the setting sun spilled across the marshland that was puddled with lakes, shining golden all the way up to a bank of clouds from an incoming rainstorm. I couldn't resist. I climbed over the seats to get my camera, assembled it, and began shooting out the open windows of our car.

Pete turned the car around and took me back to the beach, where earlier we had gotten soaked together. I took pictures of Pete, and of seagulls, and of the water coming in. I took pictures of the sunset and the people on the beach, and the reflections in the water, and our rings in a sand-etched heart with the sea coming in behind it.

This year has taught me that I have other dreams besides the photography. I will still shoot my friends weddings for what they can afford to pay me. I will take wedding referrals from people, but I will get to know the people in the way that enables me to give them their love story after their wedding day. I will take baby pictures and engagement pictures and portraits as people want me to. I love it! I love the people and the eyes and the hearts that I can capture. I love the visible ideas and uniqueness of the world around me. I'm going to do a series of lampposts, and perhaps a series of Virginia roads. And I'm going to get some good pictures of my husband!

But outside of the photography, I might get a job at a flower shop. Or open a wedding coordination service. Or teach piano. Or start working at my crafts again. I'm going to take some time to focus on Pete, and some time to focus on me. Maybe I'll even get to OUR wedding slideshow!

For the first time since June, I feel free again. My world has opened up. I can see color and beauty without groaning about how much editing that is going to take; I can look forward to my friends' weddings without the dread of "how will I measure up to what they want?" In a way, I'm starting all over, and I've had some tough lessons to learn over the last year, but they were good lessons, and necessary to finding out what I can and can't do.

I'm not God. I'm not a photographic genius. I'm just me. And I don't have to be anybody else to see what God wants me to see and share what He wants me to share.

But back to the place where dreams go...

I think He's been holding them.

I hope I get to be a mom this year. No disclaimers. No holding back. Enough is enough of my plans and ideas. I need to LIVE, people!

"It's miles through the night, just over the dawn, on this road that will take me home..."

"I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity."

~Jeremiah 29:10-14

(Oh, and by the way... Will & Rachel's wedding is up, and Sarah & John's engagement shoot. Check 'em out, if you want!)


A Scottish Whisper said...

You have a gift with your camera that God meant you to use. He gave you a life to fill and your camera is a wonderful tool in capturing the memories of a life well spent. Sounds like you're doing a good job keeping the focus on life, and snapping some shots along the way. :-)

andie said...

..thanks for letting Him teach through you.

I've been learning a lot of the same stuff lately; though it's been a bit different, circumstantially.

Love you, Kells~

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