In mid-April I took a trip to Falls Creek Falls to a workshop called Forest + Falls that I randomly found on instagram. I didn't know a single person, had never been to Tennessee, and had no idea what to expect other than I knew I'd be surrounded with artists that I would learn from and hopefully build relationships with. My intentions were to learn about relationships in photography, and bringing that out in my work. I wanted to learn from other's experiences and apply their learnings to my style. What I DIDN'T expect was to leave there with a completely different point of view of the world, and my part in it.
This lovely human being put it directly in my face, the reality that they live on a daily basis, and how infrequently their story was told. They are a photographer, a mom, a writer, a public speaker, an activist, non-binary, queer, a person of color, a partner, a lover, a teacher and a new friend to me. They taught me that it's okay to have anxiety, it's okay to have a mom-body, it's okay to not fit in, it's okay to feel a way that those around you don't understand. They taught me how important it is to look honestly at myself and my part in racism, at my part in the things in this world that I don't like. To work hard, and speak up to change those things. They reminded me that skinny, white, beautiful women aren't the only people that want and need their stories told. They encouraged me to find beauty outside my norm, outside my comfort zone, outside my 'target client' and my price range. It sounds SO superficial that I even have to say that I hadn't thought of these things, but it's true. We get so caught up in what's comfortable to us, and what we expect, that we forget to look outside of that and explore what else is out there.
I had to acknowledge my role as a privileged white woman from a two parent home with many opportunities. I had to realize that I have two choices, take this knowledge and ponder it, or I could actively talk about it and live the changes I needed to make. I could post on social media about unjust situations I saw, I could approach people of color in my town and literally just talk to them and learn about them and protect and love them. Create a space for them and use my privilege as a voice. I could learn what is offensive, what is annoying, what hurts. I could work to understand why. I could create a space where people are safe to talk about their feelings and be themselves and feel safe. I could teach my kids about same sex couples, and people that don't identify with their physical birth gender. Teach them we're all the same on the inside, and the only thing that can separate us is hate and judgement.
So with this blog, it's obvious I've chosen to speak up. I'm sorry if this blog upsets you or is uncomfortable... but that may be a sign that you, too, have work to do.
Thank you so much to Margaret, you'll never know the difference you've made in me.
Check out Margaret's Work!
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