Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Three Photos and the Truth

by Kelly Ishmael

I would just like to start out by saying what an honor and thrill it is to be guest-posting here at Focusing on Life.  I am such a fan of theirs, and I so appreciate this warm, inviting community they have created.  It has been a huge source of inspiration on my own journey with photography.  And so today I thought I would share some thoughts with you about two things that are very near and dear to my heart. 
Music and photography. 
So currently, in my neck of the woods, there are four country music radio stations. Which would lead you to believe that there are a lot of country music fans where I live. Which there are.  And I am one of them.
Confession…If I was ever going to audition for American Idol, ‘Fancy’ by Reba McIntire would be my audition song.
Thank you for not judging me.
Now I know country music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I think one of the reasons that country music is so popular and speaks to so many people (including myself) is because of its universal themes. You’ve probably heard the quote by Harlan Howard, “country music is three chords and the truth.” But really to me, country music is about love, loss, family, faith, growing up in a small town – all things I so totally relate to.
Anyway, I specifically recall last summer that one of the more popular themes on the radio had to do with driving an old, beat-up truck down a country road with a girl sitting beside you going to a party in a field somewhere and drinking something out of a dixie cup. May I present to you as evidence:
*  Luke Bryan – I Don’t Want this Night to End
*  Kip Moore - Somethin ‘bout a Truck
* Jason Aldean – Take a Little Ride

It’s interesting to me how these three songs are all pretty much about the same thing, but yet they all sound different. Each song-writer infused the lyrics with his particular story and/or elements from his own experience. And then each of the performers sings those lyrics with his own voice and expression. Those two things combined – the story and the voice – give three songs about basically the same thing a unique appeal. Each song brings something different to the party (lame pun intended).
Well, I was thinking about this as my family and I were heading home from Dallas last weekend. Listening to country music radio naturally. And I was on my laptop looking through the multitude of photos I had taken during my trip to the Dallas Arboretum with Terri and Leigh. It was the first time I had ever met friends for a photography outing and I have to tell you…it was just the most awesome experience. 

One of the things I thought was so interesting was  how the three of us saw the same things, yet captured them a little differently.  For instance, there was this one delightful little spot in the park that had an awesome path with a sweet, little bridge. The trees in the background where so pretty, but the real show-stopper was the wide swath of the prettiest pink tulips in the foreground. The three of us instantly recognized it as a great photo-op and so of course started snapping away.
(Photo credit l-r: Kelly Ishmael, Terri Porter, Leigh Love)
So yeah, the three of us took a photo of basically the exact same thing. But yet, when you see them together like this, you can see where each of the photos has a distinctive look. Each of us cropped and processed our photo with our own creative sensibilities. Each of us imparted our own story into the photo.
The thing is…I think whether you’re writing a country music song or creating a photographic image, there is a desire in all of us for our creative expression to be unique. Finding your voice or your style is all part of the creative journey and it’s something I’ve definitely struggled with.  A lot.   But not too long ago, I stumbled across this quote by C.S.Lewis:
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”
I just find this to be so liberating! Because the truth is, my love for home, family, and nature is nothing revolutionary. These are universal themes that have been explored with a camera lens for many, many years. But after spending the day with Terri and Leigh, I can tell you without question that it is possible to ‘see’ things differently. 

And so now I can stop worrying so much about finding my own creative style, because really all I have to do to be original is be me. 

Being creative or original is just telling my story…living my truth…singing my song.

Just like country music…all it takes is three photos and the truth.   And I thank you so much from the very bottom of my heart for letting me share it with you today.


heyjudephotography said...

First, love the photos that you chose for this post. Beautiful. I absolutely love the way that two (or more) photographers can see the same thing, be drawn to it, and create something slightly, or entirely different when they shoot it. I have the opportunity to shoot with a friend occasionally and I am amazed how different our "eye" is for the same subject. I love to see how someone else has interpreted what I have. It helps us learn and grow. So glad you were able to spend time with Terri and Leigh (something I have yet to be able to do!) Thank you for you guest post Kelly, and for faithfully following us here!

Dotti said...

Welcome, Kelly! Thank you for the beautiful post and photos! You are so right ... and it is a liberating thought ... just be ourselves ... in our photography as in everything. What's that saying? Something to the effect of being the best you that you can be because there is no other you. Well, I've mangled it, but I think you know what I mean. Let's each just go do "our" thing.

Carol said...

Great, great, great post, "Kellyish" (always loved the creativity of that name too!) You know that I have always enjoyed this exercise -but you have put it into words so perfectly. Sharing the shooting experience with someone is so much fun, and seeing the different takes is always surprising afterwards. Love the comparison shots, but each of the photos you used is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your fun day, and your vision!

Unknown said...

BEAUTIFUL! I love all the pics and I love how it feels like I am sitting beside you as I read your posts. You inspire me to be a better me!

Susan said...

Wonderful! Your words and images are always an inspiration Kelly and the message your sending here is so true...just be you!

Ashling said...

This is one of my favorite posts that you've done...you've stated such a rich, powerful truth, with illustrations, no less! Keep singing your song; it's a pleasure to hear!

Linda said...

Great post, Kelly! Your words are so true. I love how you put the 3 photos together! We do see things in different ways and that is a good thing! It is important to just be yourself, that is your style! Thank you for posting today! Your photos are lovely! Keep singing your song! It's a good one!

Kim Stevens said...

First Kelly, I want to thank you for filling in, truly! xo

And then I want to say, fabulous post! Yes, because we each see beauty, things, so differently and go to it with such different perspectives it allows each of us new points of view to share and ways to approach life and things that surround us, and how awesome is that. Life would be so boring if we all told the same story.

Your photos are beautiful, you have done the Dallas Arboretum proud!! xo

terriporter said...

Love the message of this post, Kelly! In photography (as in life) it is always hard not to make comparisons with others but just being our own best selves is far more worthy of our efforts. Of course, I love the comparison photos and am still amazed at how we all saw this same scene so differently, but the rest of your photos are wonderful! You are one of our strongest supporters and it is wonderful to have you here as a guest poster! Thank you.

terriporter said...

Oh, and a P.S.: I love country music too, for all the reasons you mentioned. Love the storytelling and the fact that (and I'm going to sound like my mother here) I can understand the words!

Anonymous said...

aww -- I can relate to your words very much so.. And I agree it is so important to be you - your original self.. and with that many changes happens along the way - Just think of that you have shared and all your own perspectives YET to come.. looking forward to seeing MORE..

AFishGirl said...

Oh, great post, it rings so true. We all bring our own "vision" to everything we look at but in the end, there is so much the universal theme that runs through what we all see and photograph. Still thrilled the three of you got together and so cool to see the three shots there of that bridge. Okay, off for tea...

Cathy H. said...

This was a hard lesson for me to learn and still gives me trouble now and then! I have to keep reminding myself, my photography is a reflection of me not someone else. Great post, Kelly, and gorgeous images!

CarolHart said...

Such a great post Kelly! Thank you for sharing your beautiful images and story with us.

kelly said...

thank you all so much for your lovely comments. it is so gratifying to share something and have others 'get it'. it was so great to share this here today. love, kelly

Katie said...

This is such a wonderful reminder, Kelly, to always be "just you". It not only can be applied to photography and music, but also to Life in general.

Beautiful photos, and I need to copy that C.S.Lewis quote. : )

stephmull said...

What an awesome post! Such a good reminder to let "me" shine through in my photos! And I so wish I could have met up with you guys....next time!! Thanks for being part of the FOL family!!!

Leigh said...

Such a beautifully written post Kelly!! and for the record, I'm a country music fan too :) Just one more thing we have in common friend!

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