We all probably have had our moment of having our own little masterpiece on display in a gallery of sorts, whether that be the refrigerator door or framed on our living room wall.
For as long as I can remember, I have connected to art before I even knew myself. My mom has always said that I inherited her artistic talents, but more than anything, the true value came out of her encouraging my love for art. I remember the eagerness I possessed to create at every opportunity throughout my childhood without fear of the product. My mom would set up a table for me in the backyard that I would transform into my very own workspace and paint the day away. As the days went by, however, the reality of more pressing matters of life became a part of my awareness, leaving that folding table and my routine of carefree creativity in the past.
I began to focus more on devoting myself and my time to matters that seemed necessary to “make it in the world” or that people seemed to attribute real value to. I was surrounded by a mindset that I needed to prove myself in these areas in order to be considered knowledgeable. I never really felt like I had discovered my niche or what I uniquely had to offer to the world because everything I could give myself credit for being good at, I could credit others for being better at.
It was when I got my hands on a camera that I truly found myself again. It became evident that I had discovered a new way of self-expression when I used my dad’s video camera to take a collection of 3,000 photos on my family’s trip up along the West Coast. You could say I went a little overboard, but it was in that explosion that I started to find my vision again.
Photography is my solid ground. Regardless of all the looming uncertainties in my life and headspace, I can always depend on photography to be the one thing I can come back to and find myself in. The capability to express a whole story through positioning, lighting, environment and expression of the subject inspires me to share not only my own stories but also to reach through beyond the lens to touch the audience’s lives in ways I never would have known to be possible before. Connecting to the personal experiences of my viewers — or at least making my viewers take a moment of their day to look deeper into my work and feel something — gives me a sense of personal purpose. I equate my perspective of the world to the camera lens: always readjusting and trying to observe and capture the beauty of the little things to appreciate surrounding me.
At the end of the day, it’s about the process of going out and being able to put myself towards something creative that makes life worthwhile.
Regardless of whether you think you have artistic nature in your bones, make room for art in your life.
Although there is power in sending a message to an audience, art isn’t necessarily about creating a piece that makes sense to other people. Part of that power is actually in creating something that speaks to an individual in a way that you wouldn’t originally envision yourself or even necessarily intend. Art is unique and consistent in that no matter how many other people create art in the world, no one had quite the same mindset or special touch you can offer. It was the only thing where it wasn’t about the rules and facts set up right in front of me. There is complete freedom to make a statement out of whatever speaks to you. Thoughts that easily escape you could be flourishing examples of self-expression if you gave them that moment to come to the surface and be in the spotlight. No one can tell you your way or approaching art is wrong because there is no wrong way.
In light of that, you might as well enlighten the world by giving it something that no one else would be able to in the same way.
Lisa Erenstein is a photographer for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.