Tuesday 23 June 2015

A photograph that changed my life

You could say that photography changed my life. 

When suffering from crippling depression in 2013 I took Andrea Sher’s online photography course, Superhero Photo.  I chose this course because I was attracted by Andrea’s philosophy that “photography is more than a hobby — it’s a way of seeing & experiencing the world. And it’s not about technical skill, or having the latest lenses & gadgets — it’s about chasing light, capturing delight, and shifting our perspectives — literally and artistically.” 

It worked.  Six weeks later I was different person.

I had a new interest in life.  I only had a compact digital SLR but I now used it to take numerous photographs when I went abroad for the first time in twenty years, to visit Poland and Oman.  I was delighted with the feedback I received, which made me think that I may have a talent for making photographs.  

So I decided to take another on-line course in the summer of 2014.  And I discovered Kim Manley Ort and Contemplative Photography.  I had no idea such a thing existed!

By way of a taster I subscribed to Kim's free Roots of Photography course and I then signed up for her course, Adventures in Seeing.  But I was apprehensive, not least because I am housebound, with MS.  I am often restricted to what's available within my home or what I see when I look out of the window.  I thought that I had probably exhausted what was available to me in 2013.  Not a bit of it; I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was – and is (!) – a lot more to see, right here.

I learnt a lot from this course – not least that I had a lot to learn about contemplative photography.  I didn’t really get it… 

But I had found something that ticked all the right boxes for me: it was creative, spiritual and academic.  And – for me – it was also about people.  I could share what I’d seen, with the world (thanks to social media and blogging).

I'd  been very impressed by Kim and by her gentle, supportive teaching style, and I knew now that I wanted to do ALL her courses.  So the time had come to invest in a ‘real’ camera. I bought myself a Nikon D3300. 

The next course on Kim's agenda was The 50mm Project course (since discontinued), which meant buying my first prime lens.  I was also discovering that photography has the potential to be a costly hobby (!)  But prime lenses are worth evert penny.  I now have several.

As it soon became apparent that I knew next to nothing about the technicalities of handling my new camera The 50mm Project represented a steep learning curve.  However with a little application on my part I began, by the third week, to get the hang of things. In the past I'd never paused and thought about how to go about making a photograph (save how to frame an image); so, gone were the days of 'point and shoot'.

This image represents the first time I made conscious decisions when taking a photograph and achieved a modicum of success.  I was – and am – inordinately proud of it. 

It represents the moment when I felt strongly that I may have found my inner calling.


  1. Hi Sophia. I feel you are most definitely walking a purposeful path. Your photographs invite pause and reflection - and when you pair them with your words, magic happens. I, too, love Kim's gentle approach to teaching and have taken several of her workshops as well. You are a light in this world, thank you for that ...

  2. So nice to come here and see this lovely photo again and to read about your journey. I imagine that the succesive layers in this photo as representing the different levels of your life: the here and now with the church steeple and houses and trees in the foreground. Then the exciting new areas still in the mist beyond, but tantalizing you with their teasing presence and the importance they represent as you move forward with an open heart!

    1. Thanks Sandra. I'd not thought of this image like this before: all the different layers that suggest where I've been and - after the sun comes up - where I may be headed next... This could almost be the subject of another blog post. Clever you, for coming up with such inspiring insights! Yes, an open heart is all. I pray I always have one.

  3. This photo is sublime Sophia. I am fascinated to read all of the above, and can only say....keep it up! xx

  4. You should be proud of this photo -- it is a unique and wonderful image. You are on a creative journey, with special muses along the way.
    Isn't it great how they show up in our lives at just the right moment?

    1. Thank you Gina! Yes they do show up at the right time - most of the time...