the sisterhood: a homecoming

i kept stepping into scenes with my heart melting, melting, melting at the sights i was beholding. on the beach. in the lodge. up at kiln. at the bonfire. upon each entrance, a shock quivered through my system, powered with the realization: i am not alone anymore. a whole community of sisters actually exists!! women who LOVE photography as much as i do. real, live, in the flesh, shutter sisters.

and these women share. share their knowledge, their tips, their special sauce ... technical advice yes, and so much more. their dreams and fears. their truth. the generosity of spirit shocked my system, too. the openness and vulnerability and depth were not what i expected from photo camp

we talked a lot about "story" at camp. here is mine: i've been a photographer since high school. my teacher was a man. i went to journalism school and all my photography instructors were men. i was one of very few women photojournalists working in the uber-competitive world of photojournalism in which no one shared their ideas for fear of someone stealing them. because people did steal ideas. literally.

pinups covered the walls in the newspaper photo labs where i worked. the guys returned from football games and printed up pictures they'd taken of cheerleaders' breasts and butts and tacked them above their desks. 

i photographed fires and car crashes and gang warfare and dead bodies. there was no one to talk to about how i felt. 

it took me a long time after my photojournalism career to even understand what shutter sisters was all about. my perspective was so ingrained by all i had learned and seen in my previous world of photography. i didn't get the "shooting from the heart" thing, photographing as expression of tender feelings and family life. sun flare, starbursts and out-of-focus were serious no-nos in all my training. i'd check in on the shuttersisters site every once in awhile, and leave thinking, "this is not the place for me." 

until i was far enough and long enough away from all that i had learned before. i needed a cooling off period of unlearning what was no longer necessary, a melting of all that hardness which was imperative to survive in that world. 

over time, i found myself on the shutter sisters site more and more. learning so much from the archives. seeing what other women were seeing and sharing. joining in on the "one word" and "daily click" projects. commenting on posts. writing a guest post. i even eventually found myself playing with sun flare, starbursts, and out-of-focus! and loving it, i mean, down to my core LOVEing it. cherishing the place where i finally know, i belong. that the shuttersisters site exists in the world is like sailing in the middle of the ocean but knowing there is land. somewhere that is safe. somewhere that is welcoming. somewhere that is home.

 

so to have my journey take me into the actual arms of tracey and all the contributing shutter sisters, and into the arms of women who love photography as much as i do, to have ALL THAT? i had no idea how much i had suffered, and how much i needed this. need this. i am no longer sailing. i am anchored. i am home. and i am so incredibly grateful.

the last morning at camp, the dining hall man took my ticket and wanted to direct me to the tables reserved for our group. "are you a shutter sister?" he asked. yes. yes i am.