Tag Archives: photographer

A Lesson in Resilience

cherry tree resilienceOne of my brothers still lives on Cape Cod, the place where my 5 siblings and I grew up. This is noteworthy for two reasons – first, he is a scenic photographer – he captures amazing shots of nature; second, Cape Cod and New England has had snowstorm after snowstorm this winter. This has created one of his latest works – the amazing flowering cherry tree in his front yard in each of the four seasons. Amazing flowers in spring, great dense green leaves in summer, amazing fiery reds and orange foliage in fall and the bare brown trunk blanketed under epic snow in winter. This bold tree is resilient; it shows up powerfully in each season. It inspires my intention to be more resilient.

The lesson from the cherry tree is that we too are capable of shining no matter what happens. We are resilient to handle the seasons – and by seasons I mean the constant changes in our lives. We meet sunny days where things are going our way – we flower, we shine. We meet stormy days that seem unfair, unrelenting and scary. When we are intentional and determined about connecting to our inner greatness and strength – to the power deep in us – we find we have access to amazing resilience. This helps us show up strong and committed to life, regardless what comes our way.

It still amazes me that this tree can survive in temperatures from minus 10 to nearly 100 degrees. It stands there and faces what comes, doing what it does best – living its truest self. It doesn’t lament the rains or wind. It doesn’t give up when it snows. It doesn’t wish that its leaves would remain all year – it allows them to change color and sends them off to make room for new ones. It partners with life; it allows life.

We however, like to plan and control everything in life. And when things don’t go according to plan, we find fault. We get angry. We blame. We quit. We feel at the affect of our world – at odds with it.

Or, we could learn from this cherry tree. We could see that we have the strength and resilience to see the blessing in every event, and not to fight with life but live it as it is delivered. “Anyone can be cooperative, patient and understanding when things are going well and life is good. But it is the noble man or woman who can behave with grace and compassion, and even kindness, when times are bad,” shares Garr Reynolds, blogger of Presentation Zen. My intention is to be noble and act with grace, compassion and kindness regardless of what happens in life.

Resilience, or grit, is what enables us to show up committed to life when life sends snowstorm after snowstorm. Resilience is what enables us to show up big to life when our idea didn’t work, the relationship failed, or the job was lost. As the great Japanese proverb says, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” We can choose to bounce back – we can choose to see what was, understand it, learn from it and get back into life’s driver’s seat. We, like the flowering cherry in my brother’s front yard, can just keep on keepin’ on. Resilient. Strong. Committed. Determined. Intentional. Living our greatness and ready for the next moment of life – whatever that might look like.

Find your resilience role model – nature, a pet or even a person. Mine is this amazing cherry tree. Let it share its wisdom with you; learn from it and let it inspire you to be intentional and purposeful about living powerfully, positively and resiliently no matter what comes your way.

What Would You Do With One Second of Carefreeness?

Imagine you could let all of your worries and troubles go for one second, what would that moment look like? A french non-profit called the Mimi Foundation gave 20 cancer patients that chance a few weeks ago.

Each patient suffers from a terminal form of cancer. Many have completely lost their hair due to radiation treatments and their days are filled with dread of the next hurdle in fighting the disease. For one day they were invited to a studio to have their hair and make-up done, all while keeping their eyes closed. Then they were placed in front of a one way mirror that had a photographer on the other side. As they opened their eyes he took a photo of that first few seconds of happiness. He captured the pure joy of a carefree moment, something they so rarely get to experience in their current every day lives.

As we come to the close of our week on stress, what would your carefree moment look like? If you could choose it, where would you be? What do you think would bring you that joy? Tell us in the comments below.

10 Stunning Photos of Ballet Dancers in the Strangest Settings

Dancers-Among-Us-Wellesley-College-Louise-Layman3237If you have ever seen a ballet performance, we’re guessing it was in a theater, on a stage, with sets, costumes, and the whole shebang.

It’s an exquisite art form, enjoyed by many as a luxury form of entertainment, much like the opera or a classical music concert. The perceived refinement of ballet dates back to Renaissance Europe, when it first developed as a social custom of the royal courts before being institutionalized by King Louis XIV of France.

Eager to emulate European culture, Russia became a powerhouse of ballet training in the early 20th century, with such masters as Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky. Nowadays, ballet is practiced, performed, and enjoyed all around the world in countless ways, both traditional and experimental.

Case in point, photographer Jordan Matter recently did a series of photographs portraying ballet dancers in bizarre and uncommon settings. Ballet in the subway? Ballet in a meadow? Check it out!

Which photo is your favorite? Let us know in the comments section!

 

All photos by Jordan Matter

“A Beautiful Body”: Reclaiming Beauty from a Backward Culture that Devalues Mothers’ Bodies

Motherhood brings love, joy, and children into women’s lives. It also brings responsibility, body changes, and considerable sleepless nights – these are parts of the bargain. One thing it should not entail, but often does, is body shame and low self-esteem. In pregnancy and motherhood, women’s bodies become vessels of life. They are the sites of ultimate creativity and abundance, and there is no shame in that.

But then come the stretch marks and scars, the loose skin and soft breasts, and it’s hard not to look at yourself and feel alienated from the image of beauty our culture promotes. This phenomenon has inspired photographer Jade Beall to reclaim women’s natural beauty in her series “A Beautiful Body.” The project began when Beall entered into the world of motherhood and, as way of coping with the changes her body was experiencing, began posting photos of her post-pregnancy body to Facebook. The response was overwhelming, Beall writes on her website. There was clearly a deep longing for and desperate lack of widespread representations of real mom bodies, in all their beauty and life-giving power.

Thus Beall began photographing women in all stages of pregnancy and motherhood, some with big baby bellies, some with newborns, some with grown kids and years-old stretch marks kissing their soft tummies. The degree of enthusiasm for this project led Beall to embark on publishing a book by the same title, now available for pre-order. The book will contain photographs of mothers (like the ones above) along with each woman’s personal story of finding beauty and strength in spite of media-enforced stereotypes.

It speaks to the world we live in to see so many women crippled by feelings of shame and inadequacy. The materialist, superficial culture we live in outlines a narrow box with the label “Beauty,” and anything that doesn’t fit into it gets brushed aside. This leaves us feeling responsible for our own lack. But the reality is that these labels and values are 100% arbitrary, empty, and meaningless. Thus the task for all of us, as Beall’s series demonstrates, is to reframe our lens; to reclaim our bodies, as well as our aesthetic values, which have been co-opted for so many years by a media culture that has no real interest in our well-being.

What do you think? Are you inspired by Beall’s photo series? Please share your own photos and stories in the comments below and on social media!

 

All photographs by Jade Beall.

Daring Photographer Takes On the World of Mental Illness Behind Bars (Slideshow)

KSR - CPTUPhotographer Jenn Ackerman is nothing if not a boundary-pusher. Her work delicately treads the line between art and ethnography, offering glimpses into worlds that both trouble and intrigue us – from beauty pageants to dying inmates. Alongside her husband and creative partner, Tim Gruber, Ackerman captures the beauty and grace that can exist in even the harshest conditions, as demonstrated poignantly in her photo series “Trapped.” This project, inspired by a NY Times article on the growing population of inmates with mental illness, brings viewers into the stark world of someone trapped both physically and psychologically. It’s a place none of us would want to be, but one in which Ackerman immersed herself for the sake of shedding light on this little known side of the prison system. Ackerman writes:

My intention was to make that made the viewer feel what I felt when I was inside the prison. I took a more personal and emotional approach to this project than I ever have…I left the prison everyday wanting to help these men that have nowhere else to go. There were days that I was extremely scared and others that I left thinking how much someone on the outside missed them. Some days, I had to remind myself that many of these men had done heinous things. There were also days when I was reminded that some of these men have faded into the system with no hope of getting out…

For most of these men, they have been outcasts of society and rarely heard. So they had a chance to share their story and have someone listen that actually cared to listen not just focused on treatment or safety. My intention is to spark calls for reform for the treatment of the mentally ill and the prison system in the US.

On the project’s website you can watch the feature video, which includes a combination of action footage, still images, facts about the conditions of mentally ill inmates, and audio from an interview with the warden from the prison Ackerman photographed. The content is unsettling and at times hard to watch, but it is an important step toward shedding light on a community that might otherwise go faceless and nameless. Their stories, at least, will not remain trapped.

 

Photo credit: Jenn Ackerman

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