Author: Cleo Lebron

It has been confirmed by experience that indulging in the act of creation is necessary to my self care regimen. While I grew up being pegged (and fulfilling expectations) as an athlete and academic, art–whether physical or imagined– was not an area that was held in such personal high regard. In my middle school years teachers made mention of a certain knack for writing but since I was only ever prompted to write by approaching due dates creative writing didn’t appeal to me much.

Obviously, I am in a different place now.

Throughout my later teens and into adulthood, I viewed myself as calculated, driven, and eager to climb the ladder of success: a woman who was about her business. I would have never thought that in a typical moment of spontaneity and lack of self restraint, the creator within me would come knocking again. This time, photography was her vessel.

For years my partner and I have gone through extreme bouts between being professional hobbyists and not touching a camera for months on end. Certainly spending years literally creating life as a parent must be acknowledged, and so I assert that I haven’t completely ceased to engage myself as a Creator; I am, however, eager to expand my palette and collections so to speak. Since dedicating myself to be actively and consistently creating through written and visual mediums, it only follows that photography needs to come into its Spring.

A particular result of spending so much time in conversation with other mothers who have almost entirely given themselves over to their children and partners is having an especially obvious realization of my own fervor to reclaim some sense of balance. Yet, as much as I feel so necessarily stimulated and restored, the inconveniences of life (with children!) keep me from my camera more often than not. In an effort to stare down these strongholds, I’ve curated a personal list of 5 tips to help me integrate photography back into my regular routine, but I need some accountability buddies so maybe you’ll join me?

1. Use Equipment that Matches Your Lifestyle

Having a camera that is compatible with your lifestyle is a must for max likelihood to consistently create. How many times have you thought about taking your camera with you but decided the hassle was bigger than the reward? Having a camera that you can comfortably grab on the go makes your photography routine easier and less stressful–plus think of all the spontaneous shots you could capture! If it’s a matter of using your phone camera or not engaging your photographic creativity at all, dammit use your phone! Most smartphones released in the last few years have pretty capable built in cameras and although you won’t get all of the bells and whistles of a DSLR at least you’ll be exercising your eye! Try to frame the story that your photos are telling with consideration; what is the mood you are going for? What do you want to remember about that moment? Try new angles and take risks–who knows what you might come up with?

2. Keep Your Camera in View

It’s nice to have a safe place to store your photography equipment but to keep yourself reaching for your camera, keep it in view! Noticing your camera is out is an easy passive way to encourage yourself to pick it up. On my first day of trying this out I easily reached for my camera on at least 3+ occasions where I otherwise never would’ve considered going to unpack it from its storage bag/carrier. On an upper bookshelf in a common area, on your dresser, or wherever makes sense in your home–just make sure it’s around eye level!

3. Make Photo Dates

I have no immediate reason to think that the day will grow another hour or that life as I know it will give one back to me; for this reason I have learned to use my elbows. I’ve recently implemented new (nearly) non negotiable dedicated ME time. And no, the clouds didn’t part way and everyone saw the light. But there’s something to be said about realizing that everyone will be ok without you for an hour (or a few… one day I’ll really turn it up and go away for a weekend, you just wait!). Even short 20 min REAL breaks can put some serious breath in my system. Whatever the case may be, don’t feel guilty about making some demands, your mental and emotional health must be a priority. “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

Schedule a date with a friend to be your muse or go somewhere and take photos together.  Make an appointment or take yourself on a date with your camera.

4. Get Inspired by a New Project or Use Prompts

Sometimes the hardest part is finding a place to begin,  I’ve come up with 4 weeks worth of prompts to inspire myself–and you!

week 1: “Before we go”
Challenge yourself to take a photo in busy moments or before goodbyes–you may not have time to get shutter speeds and focal points exact, but consider that part of the story!
week 2: “If I had an extra hour”
What would you do with an extra hour in a day? Try taking photos of the things that the day just didn’t have room for–whatever that means for you!
week 3: “Next to Love”
Capture photos that ought to be featured in the dictionary next to the word “love.”
week 4: “It’s a little dark”
In photography light is your best friend, but your schedule doesn’t always line up quite like that. Try something different and think about what stories we can tell when it’s a little dark

5. #CreateTime

The truth is that as much as I believe in the practicing of self care, I often only think about doing it but never actually commit or, if so, for only a short time. Support and accountability are some of the greatest assets in achieving our goals. I’m dedicating myself to engage creating again and I invite you to do the same: join me in using #CreateTime so we can wink and booty bump each other. I’m getting started on week 1’s prompt today!

*Bonus prompt* for whenever: “I love this song”
Take this however you receive it!

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