Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ordinary is Extraordinary

I'm snuggling with a sick little one who stayed home from school today (Cole), so I am trading work for a special round of cuddles (he's helping me write this post!)...and that's a trade I can learn to love!

So... today I want to talk about hobbies. I think we all have them, right? Before I started thinking of photography as a business, it was actually my hobby. I loved to take pictures of anything and everything - and then scrapbook them. It drove my husband nuts. Scrapbooking was my pre-kids guilty pleasure - but now, who has the time?! But even though photography has become my career choice, I realized recently that it's actually still my hobby too - so today I wanted to share how that goes. :)

A year ago, I was looking for a few ways to help the sole money maker in our household, especially since Christmas was coming. I wasn't really into any paying jobs for sessions yet - doing a few shoots for practice here and there, but basically still a full-time mommy. We knew the season was going to be tight, so I got the idea to try selling a few of my nature photos on Etsy to help take the stress out if I could.

I excitedly opened up an Etsy shop, put up a few of my animal/nature pictures that I had taken in the past and waited to see if there was a response. A few of you reading have actually bought a print, and I want to thank you for supporting Santa here. :) But after a while, I started realizing the scope of what having an Etsy shop is like, and that is basically... a tiny little anchovy in a great big sea. :) I never realized just how VAST it is! Unless you are willing to put in the time advertising, networking and getting your shop out there in the forefront of everything - and keeping it there! - it's kinda like your little place is located in a back alley of a town no one ever visits. I was sad about this for a while... it really excited me to think that I might be able to help contribute to the grocery bill with something I do as a hobby - but I finally let my bubble burst after almost 9 months of no sales. I felt like I was fishing in a fish-less sea, lol!

After a disappointing few months, I went out every once in a while, when the kids were napping - or even better, with them - taking walks around the yard, looking for new photos to add to the shop. I was always on the search for what would make a good piece of art! We have a garden here, lots of woods, a small creek and an old, rustic barn - lots of subjects to photograph. It happened that I learned to really look forward to our walks, because I came to realize that I was looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary - how beautiful the things are that we look at every single day - when you looked at them in the right context. We're surrounded with natural beauty, wherever we are. In the city (may be less natural and more man-made, but no less beautiful!), in the country, in the suburbs, on the drive.

My cousin posted a photo to facebook about how gorgeous the dew looked in the morning sun this morning... and that's just what I mean! How the ordinary dew can look extraordinary when we realize... it always has been. It just took that moment to look at it in a new way for us to see that. Once you open your eyes to this, you will always see this way.

Doing this for almost a year, going out and getting new pictures - the act of looking around our yard with new eyes - became such a beloved activity with the kids because I was also looking at things through their eyes; watching what caught their attention and trying to see what they were fascinated by. It became our hobby. I was certainly bummed in the beginning that the Etsy thing didn't take off, but I gained such a new view on life in the process that it was hardly a fail for me. I was getting more practice with my camera, spending quality time with my kids and really enjoying the centering and relaxing Zen activity of finding the simple beauty all around me. It might have been the shadows I had never seen fall before. Or the mist created by the recent rain. I noticed that one scene or flower can never look the same twice - there's always a new context, a new set of backgrounds your subject is in (the color of the light, different shadows, weather, new flowers nearby to complement).  :) Plus, I would always be more willing to experiment with textures and actions on these pictures, so it gave me freedom to explore and have fun in post processing as well. So many great advantages and learning experiences.

I still have my pictures up on Etsy (see the tab above if you are curious about how I see my yard and house) - and will probably keep them up until they expire. I may renew or I may not - but since it's a great motivator to keep looking for new material, I love that it prompts me to have an outlet for a walk here and there, looking for sweetness and drama in the everyday with those who cause the most sweetness and drama in my life everyday. :)

As my favorite author has so wisely put: "If we allow ourselves to be enchanted by the ordinary, we begin to see that all things are extraordinary." - Dean Koontz

Some of my favorite listings over the years: **I apologize for the wonky alignment of these pictures - Blogger is acting up today and if I fiddle with them any more to try and get it right, I just might put my coffee cup through my monitor. :)


Anonymous said...

Beautiful and inspiring to go out and see things differently. I want that bee one next to the woodpile one I love that. And you too :)

mima said...

Suppose to say new one not bee one typing not my thing

Aunt Roey said...

Cheryle, Barb just told me, a week or so ago, that u were blogging again--I just got finished reviewing them all---and I love them all!!!! Like Barb, I don't "do" I'm SO VERY HAPPY to connect with you again. Dean Koonz may be YOUR fav author---but YOU ARE MINE!!!

Laura said...

I loveee the wood pic! And the sun shooting through the field.... You take beautiful nature pics. I look at your etsy shop all the time...i will definatley be buying some when we buy a house. I decided not to buy anything else for decor until we buy a home ! But their awesome. Have you ever done a craft show or photography show type event ?

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