in search of normal


One of the casualties of the past year is my photography practice. I could list numerous reasons why this happened: we’re still in temporary housing, and our surroundings don’t feel very inspiring. Half of my photography equipment is in storage. My go-to camera, now 6 years old, is beginning to show signs of age (including a spectacularly cracked screen), and spending money on a new one right now is out of the question — we have furniture to buy, after all.

But the truth is, I haven’t really felt much like shooting. And honestly, there are times when this scares me: after twenty-something years of shooting, is this a new normal?

Deep down, I suspect that photography will always be a part of my life, because I know the joy it has brought me in the past. Also, the fact that occasionally, on an otherwise unremarkable day, I’m still taken by something beautiful — like my daughter, for instance — and feel an irresistible urge to grab my camera and capture it, means that despite all recent evidence to the contrary, photography is something that lives in my bones. Admittedly, the number of times when I’ve been moved to grab my camera during the past 14 months has occurred more infrequently than before, but the impulse still there. Photography, I think, has become part of my DNA. And that’s something.

Still, there’s no question that at this point, “normal” is not something we’ve been living in for a while. For the last 14 months, we’ve been in limbo, and “normal” is something that’s still in the process of becoming. Our builder confirmed late last week that we’re still on track to be in our home within the next four weeks (God willin’, and the creek don’t rise, as they say in Texas), which means that activity around here is about to ramp up again. We have homeowner’s insurance to research. (Flood insurance to research.) We have movers to contract. Furniture to buy. Our storage container to be delivered. Blinds to install. Our salvaged belongings to go through and put away. Our new stuff to go through and put away. Decorating and making our new empty house a home. And as we do this, we’re still navigating Alex’s first year of high school, Marcus’ recent diagnosis of a heart condition (including what the hell that even means, and how much management it will actually entail), and the continued growing of my business. To be honest, I’m exhausted. But I have to keep going — at least until we figure out what “normal” looks like again. I know it will be different than it looked a year ago, but man, will I be happy when I see it.

Until then, it’s also time to ramp up self-care, even when it feels like I don’t have the time. I don’t know when it will include photography again. But at some point, I’m sure it will — because I know I want photography to be a part of the new normal, too.

Photography, after all, is one way I make light.