Photo Copyright the marvellous Susan Papazian
On Tuesday I had a big FAT birthday.. I will let you figure out which one but a week or two prior it was sending seismic waves through my life, loads of thoughts and emotions about life in general.
There are moments in life that make us stop, reflect on where we are, how far we have come and where we are going. I had the great fortune to celebrate with a photo shoot by photographer Susan Papazian and boy did we have fun (see image above).
So much has happened since I left my old life, dare I say it, 14 years ago. So many extraordinary moments I would never have had the chance to live if I was still sitting at a desk doing something I didn’t care about. I’m grateful for every day.
Looking back I can hardly believe it’s true, so many wonderful people have helped me, gave me a chance when they didn’t need to and supported me in what I was doing. For me I have never felt it has been a solo effort, I have always believed that the universe and ‘you’ wanted it to work out.
When I walked into a darkroom in Florence in 2000 I had no idea I was starting the first day of a new life, if I had known all of the living that was in front of me I probably would have done it a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong there has been anxiety, tears, hardship, and fear in large doses but the love, happiness, excitement of doing something I love and personal reward and meeting you have far outweighed the rest.
I really feel as though the universe has already handed out too much to me. How come I was so lucky to have found my way to photography? You see photography for me is more than taking pictures, photography is my emotional language, the way I see the world, the way I communicate, the way I feel and interpret people and situations and it has connected me to you.
There was a time in my early forties when it hit me like a head on train crash that I had forgot to have a baby? I remember wandering around Paris hearing that clock ticking in my head and freaking me out like it has done to so many women of my generation.
Women, who like me grew up in a transitional generation in the evolution of humans and relationships. The rule book went out the window and we had more options and choices thrown at us than our mothers, which sometimes added up to a very confusing situation. Or like me they didn’t find the love of their life to the dying days when their eggs were almost fried!
I tortured myself (and Francesco) for a year or two about having a baby, I asked friends with and without for their opinions and there were all sorts of great advice for and against.. but the universe was taking a break on this one. I could hear it saying ‘babe you’ve got photography and Francesco you’re sitting this one out. And BTW how would you pay to feed this baby or send it to university, ha didn’t think that one through did you’?
Then I would go out and shoot, take pics that would warm my heart and send shivers to my toes and I couldn’t wait to get home to be with my darling and my photos and the baby question just floated away.
Then came Avedon (my cat). Ok, this is the bit were you think I have lost it. But all things happen for a reason and we got this crazy, jittery cat who needs so much love for many reasons. A cat, like a garden or a baby needs unconditional love and nurturing and he knocked on the right door cause we got it in bucket loads. And that was when it all started to add up.
The God’s gave me a cat so I could have photography, Francesco and you. They are far smarter than me and for that blip when I wanted it all they already knew I couldn’t handle it all. So instead I got what I could handle (and he doesn’t need to go to university).
Francesco and I joke about how ‘our family’ feels complete with Avedon snoring away on the bed, or bounding from the bookshelf over our heads to the floor or swatting flies in the summer whilst I shoot and Francesco studies (he loves to study).
So looking back the greatest gift I have been given in life is photography, because it led me to Francesco, it led me to my creative family, led me to my tribe and you. Photography has allowed me to look inside and know and understand who I am, what I need and the evolving that stills needs to be done. It connects me to people I don’t know and allows me to inhale life like it’s the finest perfume in the world.
If I didn’t find photography I would never have found you and having you along on this journey with no fixed destination is like having your buddy with you on the good and the dark days.
So my dear friends, thanks for sharing this journey, thanks for your words, your notes, your comments, your emails and your love and thanks too to the silent ones who bob up every now and then.
It’s just me here so it’s impossible to respond to all of the notes but please know they make a difference, I read every single word and cherish the effort you go to.
So if the God’s give you a cat or a dog or a birdie embrace the little guys with all your hearts and know that love comes in many forms including photography.
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust