Creativity and Imagination - the importance of personal work and time

Do you ever get stuck in a certain style or way of looking at the world? Maybe it's with writing, or photography, or design, or maybe it's how you approach each sale or client. Something isn't clicking between who you've become and what you want to accomplish. I was walking that line a week ago, too. 

Vacation is a great thing. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we all can get a bit caught up in the daily grind of life and each day has enough troubles on its own.

Last time I went home to Cleveland I was pretty unsure where my life was headed. It was the week after CMA Fest and I had worked myself to death. I was on my way back to Ohio to find out I'd be stuck in a leg cast for nine weeks with no real promise that it would even help. It began a pretty weird, and often times scary chain of events that lead me to where I am today.... on my very first paid vacation. Funny how things work out..

A much needed escape for some catfish fishing outside of Cleveland. (Canon 6D + 15-35mm 2.8L)

I can't hide from the fact that my life's been pretty unpredictable. I went from being in a cast, to being on a national tour, to losing just about all my clients, to gaining new ones, and now I work full time representing two companies I really do believe in- Best Buy and Canon- and a medium that has truly transformed my life, my dreams, my goals, my path: photography. I still shoot, and I still have hopes to end up on tour full time, but living the dream isn't that fun and a steady paycheck with paid vacation time is pretty great. And truthfully, I value building friendships over work relationships and network connections, so I don't feel guilty about focusing on that aspect of my life.

Sunset on Lake Erie

This week consisted of face-timing. The real thing. Face to face, heart to heart. One of my biggest mentors and I had a great lunch together, talking about life and what's in store for us both. He's retired, I'm pushing 27 and walk kinda funny (thanks Doc!), yet we both have our eyes on things ahead. I think if most people woke up every day with a heart willing to help others, our future would look much different. Our families would transform, our workplaces would change, and slowly that should turn a ripple into a wave. 

That outlook is important. It's a hard habit to learn.. like love, forgiveness, and accountability. But we should all try our best because it's enough. I had a fun conversation with my new friend Liz on Tuesday about Cleveland, Nashville, faith, creativity, dreams and everything in between. I remember being in her shoes before I moved to Nashville, and in a funny and new way I feel the same currently because of all this change. It was our first time meeting face to face, and she was so refreshing and encouraging. I'll be cheering her on from Nashville as she begins chasing her dreams and calling in life. I spent Wednesday night watching the Cavs demolish the Atlanta Hawks over a beer with some high school friends. That's so Cleveland!

Then there's my nephew, Oliver..

oh wait...

There's Oliver - curiously watching his grandpa put air in the wheelbarrow tire.

Oliver giving me a hug

At 1 1/2 years old, this kid is so full of joy and laughter that you can't help but admire him. We hear it all the time - we are to be child-like even as adults. What a lesson that is. We all need a nap every once in a while. Oliver would fall or drop something, "brush it off", we'd say, and he would continue on his mission of climbing something. Ever find pure joy in a blown-up rubber glove? "MOOOOOOOO!'s" filled the room as the child imagined a cow udder. Imagination is the bridge between a rubber glove and an endless wave of the cutest giggles and laughter. I had the choice to play along or not, and of course I MOOO'd like a pro.

As I watched him play and interact with family, I wondered this: imagine if adults took the same approach. What if we applied that same wonder to everyone we encounter? The world has truly hardened our hearts. (understandably so). I'm thankful that Oliver's heart is beginning to form into a complex, beautiful personality. His mind is set on learning, loving and soaking up as much as it can, every minute of the day. What are our minds set on? All these things can not only hinder our way to an authentic way of connecting, but also creating. Sometimes a small re-allignment is all we need to feel inspired again.

Oliver in his dad's shoes

Chasing a kid around the house with a camera can do all sorts of wonders to a photographer. I've always tried to look at the world a bit differently, but my time with Oliver has been eye opening and inspiring.

As creatives, personal work is often times what dusts off our equipment or re-alligns our vision. It gets our creativity flowing again. For me, it's a vital way of connecting with the world around me and exploring new territory. It often allows me to share my passion and knowledge in photography, and it connects me with people who are passionate about the same things.

Oliver and the rubber glove that became his best friend

As I pack to head back home to Nashville, I look to the things ahead. CMA Fest is coming up and as of right now I have no clue if I'm shooting anything that week. If this was me three years ago, I'd be panicking (I was). I'm just excited to see all the friends I've missed!

Here's a quick personal gallery from this week. Shot with a Canon 5D Mark II, 24-70mm 2.8L, 50mm 1.4 and my brother's Canon 6D, 16-35mm 2.8L + Tamron 70-200mm 2.8.