my study of thriving

    Lisa Congdon,   artist.

"Write the content you'd like to read," advised my friend Erin Loechner, a few months ago.  

I had been lamenting the State of the Blog:  moaning that so many of the blogs that I read seem to have lost their original sound-a-barbaric-yawp-over-the-rooftops-of-the-world express-for-the-sake-of-expressing vibe, my own blog included.  "I used to love reading blogs to learn something about the world, to be inspired," I said to her.  "To read stories and learn from shared experiences.  Now, everything seems to be all platitudes and pinnables and top-10-tips.  And I'm just as bad ..." I wailed.

"So, go back to writing whatever you want," she said calmly.  "Experiment again.  Share stories.  Talk about things that are fleetingly capturing your thoughts, if that's what you want to do.  Or do some research on the stuff that's really on your mind, and share what you find.   Write what you wish you were reading."

And so, to a certain extent, Erin's words are the reason that I began the Thrive Portrait Project:  I wanted an excuse to seek out stories that would inspire me, as someone who finally feels like I've got a handle on adulthood, and am ready to live right out loud.  My rules are simple:

  1. I want the women I photograph to be at least 40 years old;
  2. They needed to exude an energy of thriving -- an admittedly completely subjective measurement determined solely by myself; and
  3. I wanted them to share their thoughts on what it means to thrive.

Because I suspected that the beauty I would capture (along with their advice) would be timeless, I challenged myself to take their photographs with my Hasselblad film camera -- because I feel like film adds a timeless quality to images.

I didn't really know what to expect when I started, and to date, I've only taken a very few portraits -- but man, I'm just blown away by the wise words these women are sharing on what it means to thrive.  I thought I would get a phrase or a sentence or two, but instead, these lovely folks have been sharing paragraphs, with all of these different ideas and concepts on what thriving means -- many of them completely unexpected.

I love that each one of these women has been making me think.

    Laurie Smithwick  , graphic artist, maker.

Laurie Smithwick, graphic artist, maker.

I've decided to set a goal of photographing at least 25 women this year -- I'm not sure who they'll all be yet, I'll just know when I know.  Whenever I photograph someone new, I'll be sure to let you know, by sharing the digital test shots for light that I took before capturing the official film photograph here (just as I have today with Lisa and Laurie, above).  But keep checking the official gallery -- because the thoughts these women are sharing cannot be repeated enough.