There will always be those who discount my work, places that make me fearful, and things that stir up doubt and insecurity. And this is why mentors are important. These are the people I respect, and I see something in their life and work that can help me to take the next steps.
One of my mentors, photographer Henry Lohmeyer, sends his thoughts on Walking the Edge between safety and vulnerability. In his weekly note, he discussed our desire to be heard.
Often we feel our work isn't good enough to have a voice and to be heard. Our expression isn't at a self-prescribed level of what we believe to be good enough to have one. That what we say, the photos we make, aren't worthy. I feel this often, giving it the proverbial "who am I" prefix. I'm going to remind myself right now as I write this to remind you, but our work doesn't have to be good to be heard. It can actually even be terrible, whatever that means, and it still deserves our ear, our noting and our rallying. When a singing voice cracks, sing louder. It's not our work at its best that begs to be heard, it's our glorious falters, our enormous mistakes and it's our honest brokenness that wants to be heard. It's not our work that we're showing, it's ourselves and we deserve noting.
This is one of those pictures that seized my heart. I love the make-do attitude of the farm family who used old bed sheets to construct a tent from the awning of their market booth canopy to shield them from the sun. I love the play of sunlight and the shadowed silhouette of the leaves along the roof. I love the slight opening between the sheets giving rise to wonder about the activity just on the other side.
I almost didn’t share this picture, because even though I love it, I didn’t think it was good enough.
And now I see – it does not have to be good to be heard.