Define “Beauty” For Me

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I started pursuing photography, very recently. More specifically, I started pursuing “mobile photography”, which means taking pictures with my smart phone camera. There is an entire universe of incredible mobile photography and one of my idols and inspirations was this guy.

As I did so, and as I started posted my photos and oohinh abdominal ahhing over the photos of others, I became aware that “beautiful” means a lot of different things to different people.

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Me, I am enthralled by colors: the richer and more vibrant the better. They enliven and brighten me. They make me happy.

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Other people dig sky shots and naturals, and linear, orderly things.

My interest in photography gave way to an interest in clothing and fashion as another way to express my moods and my creativity. And looking at fashion photos led me to the same conclusion.

There is SO MUCH beauty swirling around us all day every day. People come in all of these beautiful and endless configurations of size, shape, and color. One is dressed classically, and the next in an artist’s palette of colors. One is tall and curvy, while the next is slim and ethereal.

I no longer buy into the childish teaching that THIS is beautiful, and therefore all else is not. I did that for years of my life, and the lack of self acceptance played itself out in all kinds of destructive ways.

YOU don’t have to agree with my definition of beautiful: that’s OK. But I’ll be damned if I’ll believe anymore that your belief is right and mine is wrong.

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I AM beautiful. And so are you. Because the beauty is IN the differences, and not in spite of them.

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Home Sweet Home

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This is a birdhouse our neighbor gave us when he moved – a man who kept beautiful gardens I admired. It’s not fancy, or pretty.

But every spring the birds return and start to fill it with anything soft they can scavenge from the yard, preparing for the first of several sets of babies they will raise.

Home is home – individual, varied, and beautiful in those who inhabit it.

Proof of God’s Love

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I have an amazing friend Megan who reminds us today that beauty is what you decide it is. I am a strong, strong believer that beauty is everywhere, all around us, all the time…if we just take the time and open our souls to see it.

Moreover, I believe that beauty is proof that God loves us. Why paint a sunset with thousands of shades of breathtaking colors – when two or three would do – if not just as a gift to delight us on our travels? If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

Beauty from Chaos

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We had an ice storm here in Iowa yesterday, and it wasn’t pretty. It was scary as HELL to drive in, and of course, there were accidents aplenty. My poor dogs looked like Bambi on the ice when they had to go outside.

And yet….it was pretty.

And I also had a fine excuse to stay home and enjoy my favorite spot in the universe – my home.

There is value and beauty in the unpleasantly unexpected. Eventually.

What I Love About Photography

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It was a couple of years ago that my daughter began learning photography. She’s been a writer all her life, and I don’t know what got her interested in photography. What I do know is that she learned to capture unique, really beautiful photos.

Recently, I started playing around with photography, and I was motivated by the fact that I have also been a writer all my life – but I had run out of the mental energy to write. To write well. I’m discouraged, and sad, and unsure of myself.

But photographs give me the chance to say something wordlessly. To express a feeling – because really, isn’t that what we do when we use written or spoken words? – without committing both writer and reader to only one version of that feeling. Taking pictures – or editing older ones to see it in a new way – lets me reach toward my instinctive home, which is beauty, and hope, and joy.

Look at the little girl above. She’s probably five or less, dressed up and dancing in a powwow. You’ll notice that she hangs pretty close to a woman beside her – her mother, her aunt, her grandmother – we don’t know.

What thoughts do you have when you see her? Are you struck by the vivid color of her dress, and wonder if someone made it for her? Do you wonder if this is her first powwow, and if she’s a little scared? Does it make you want to learn more about this powwow? Where is it? Who is there? What’s the story behind it?

I look at photos on Instagram and Flickr and I an struck by the creative talent of men and women, young and old, from all over the globe. Like two lovers seeing the same moon from far apart and feeling like they are together, I feel connected to the unknown photographer. Because I see something from a new perspective through their photo, and see what they hoped I would see.

I don’t know what “composition” means, really. I’ve never taken any classes and I surely can’t compare to 99 percent of the
people shooting the photos I love. I don’t know the language and terminology of photography. I’m a nurse practitioner, not a photographer.

But I do know when I love something when I see it. It can be black and white, landscapes, portraits… What I love is life captured.

What do you love about photography?