Photography as Therapy
Texas sunrise between Brownsville and Harlingen.

Photography as Therapy


I’ve had a lot of time to think lately. Scary, I know. I wanted to share my thoughts though as I believe some of it, pieces of what I’ve been thinking about and what I’ve done this past month could also help others.

Cell Phone Project

First of all, I’ve been away from home for a month now with at least two more weeks to go. Hospitals are not very inspiring, to be honest, but we do what we have to do in order to be there for those who need us. In order to keep my sanity, keep myself occupied and to continue some sort of photography, shooting related activity, I’ve been shooting almost exclusively with my cell phone (except the header image). You can read about that on Photofocus: Using Photography to Get Through Tough Times. You can also follow along on my Instagram. All images in this post are from my cell phone. Making projects out of it or finding themes is a good way to push ourselves to look for new things and see in new ways.

My Own Work and Business

I’ve spent quite a bit of time browsing online because quite frankly I haven’t been able to focus or put my heart into anything much else. During all this browsing I’ve been looking at what other photographers are doing. Good? Bad? As long as I keep myself from the comparison game it’s not a bad thing. What I’m seeing though has me really stepping back to figure out where I’m going and what I want to do with my own work.

It seems like everyone and their brother is doing workshops and/or tours now. Nothing wrong with that but why throw your hat into a ring filled with hats? (I do love hats though.) I have a very strong conviction to be different, or differentiate myself in life, not just photography. I’ve always been that way. So what can I offer that would be different than what’s already out there being offered? I don’t really think I want to teach in a classroom setting either. So what do I do?

Not only do I see many photographers going the workshop route but I have also noticed (this is nothing new for me) that more and more I feel like there isn’t much originality out there in the actual images I see. Many of us use the same editing software/apps, presets, and techniques which, in my opinion, is creating a lot of work that looks like everyone else’s. There are plenty of amazing places on this earth that result in plenty of beautiful images, but what’s different about them? They are beautiful images of beautiful places. This is what really pushes me to create work that is original. Again, what do I do with this?

Success as a Photographer

They say perception is reality and I know there are plenty of people out there who see me as a successful photographer. This brings up the question, what does success mean to you? As much as I’d love to quit my day job and only do photography I keep feeling like in order to do that I have to sell out and not be true to myself. This is another of my personality quirks that keep me from doing workshops, keeps me from shooting weddings/portraits, keeps me from moving forward in the normal channels, and keeps me from becoming an affiliate to any company who would have me and becoming a walking/posting advertisement for photography related companies. (I see plenty of this in my online travels as well, and I’ve gotten to the point where I almost want to unfollow those photogs.)  I get it, I get that in order to make money in photography these days, you need multiple income streams if you’re not shooting weddings/portraits/events. It’s just not me. So, again, what do I do?

Ideas Going Forward

What do I do? I will talk to someone about how they do some of what they do that is more in line with how I see myself moving forward. I will look into the agent option, worth a look I think. I will focus on some other avenues I’ve never really pushed into very hard. I need to spend more time on my own work, posting where I have seen results in the past, posting to and from my amazing new online home which has been sorely neglected. I may (no promises here) even work on my planning and scheduling because there is no planning for me right now and while I really dislike plans and schedules, I know deep down that they will help me with that word in the next paragraph.

FOCUS (hahaha). I laugh because if you know me you also know FOCUS is one of my biggest struggles. So I say it out loud as much as possible. I even bought a bracelet that says FOCUS on it. Anything that might help me there. I also got I Am Enough because I struggle with that as well. I’m learning to live into these two concepts.

Advice & Inspiration

I do hope that my rambling has helped you, even just one of you. That right there is what I love. I leave you with this from a friend who has been following along with my posts this last month:

“I’ve been seeing your posts and wanted to just reach out and say thank you for finding those little bits of beauty in your day. They have made each day better as the last month has flown by.” 

This person was also going through some things at the time and this is why I share my images and thoughts.

Remember: Beauty & Light are everywhere if you look.

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. Wow, you touch on so much of what I’ve been thinking. Because I surround myself with photographers I feel like I’m drowning in beautiful and technically sophisticated photos . It’s like a giant room full of beautiful people all yelling at the same time, hoping to be heard. It’s all starting to look the same to me. I’ve never liked sameness. I’m more concerned with connection.
    The great thing is that I don’t need perfect photos to connect. I am more drawn to Stories than to perfect beauty. Thank you for sharing your Stories. Thank you for bringing Meaning.

    1. Thank you, Christina, I love your way with words. I think this is a trend and more and more of us are tired of the same old technically beautiful images. Hoping to break the trend and mold! Appreciate you taking the time to read this and comment so thoughtfully.

  2. Huge hugs to you as you continue with your Mom. I know just how difficult these days are as I, too, have lived them. I see you as a successful photographer because you have confidence in yourself and because I admire what I see. I also love hats! Hope you’ve seen some shots of the one I bought in Vegas! I love it. The ring is always full of hats. Always. Just find your own ring.

    1. Searching for my own ring for sure. Thank you for all of your support and encouragement and your always sunny and positive being. I love the Vegas hat shots I’ve seen, so much fun.

      1. As usual, a day late and…. I’m glad I got to read your post. Hopefully the past has taken you to where you need to be.

        I do have to say that your photography and travels have been wonderful and your taking the lead with the scavenger hunt has touched many people and for that I thank you.

        Interesting how we are always struggling, questing in our search for meaning and satisfaction while also trying to ensure we can meet our responsibilities. Not easy and never ends. Just know you’re not alone and you are doing great.

        Thanks for your hard work ?.

        1. Thanks so much William. A lot has changed in these last 2 years since this post. I have moved forward, quit my soul-sucking job and have focused on my own work. It is never enough though as focus isn’t one of my strong suits! I am getting there though. Thank you so much for your kind words they are truly appreciated!

  3. Great article, Lauri, and I share many of your concerns. I’ve started throwing my hat into that ring myself, but I realize there’s a lot of hats in there already, so I’m struggling to find a hat that stands out from the rest. Not an easy task.

    I hope you can find your own way soon.

    1. Thank you Ugo and I’m slowly finding my way, thankfully there is no timeline. I think there are many of us out here who feel this way and are just doing what we can and continually trying on hats to see what fits and feels good!

  4. I’m so happy to hear that things are improving with your mom. You have really been there for her and that is very admirable. I know you will find your own way and will be more successful that you already are. We all admire you and your determination dear friend. Much love ??

    1. Thank you so much Angela, you have no idea how much your friendship and unending support mean to me.

  5. So glad to hear that things are doing well with your mother. You’ve made me feel like I’m not the only one feeling these feelings lately. I think that the both of us will definitely find our own particular ways, what’s best for each of us may be different and may be a bit the same. Best of wishes to you always and keep creating your own very special art..

    1. I think that there are many many many of us who go through this every so often. Thank you for your well wishes Tina.

  6. Focus. For the past 18 months I have been considering tattooing that word, or a symbol for it on my wrist, I have similar struggles too. Although I do portraits, I also find myself not being able to fit neatly into that prescribed ‘box’ of how portraits should be done and so success isn’t easy because in trying to be unique, or myself, I don’t find a pre-proven path to follow. Instead I try many things and they aren’t always a success. I keep soldiering on looking for the right way, for me. I find workshops and photographers selling to other photographers all the time to be so tiresome… one of the reason I love the hunt so much is because it is grass roots, collaborative and more equal, less super star. If anyone has proven that people can grow and lift themselves from the ground up it is Scavengers. Thanks for allowing me to ramble on your post, I am not sure what I am trying to say, maybe you understand me anyway. ?

    1. I love your ramblings Sam, it’s all a journey of self-discovery I think. We all need to figure out what works best for each of us. I wish I had an answer to the FOCUS thing though, ugh. It has been amazing to watch you on your own journey!

  7. I struggle with many of the same things you do. I do not want to do weddings, I like doing whatever I want (in photography) and I love spending time just exploring. I don’t really have a plan (also not sure I need one), but I would like to make some money. Maybe I need a plan.

    Anyway, I hope you are well and hopefully we’ll get a chance to hang out in the coming year.


    1. Plan. Yeah. I’m not good with that word hahaha. It would help I suppose to make some sort of plan though. What’s that saying – how do you know how to get where you’re going if you don’t know where you are going? Something like that. Thanks so much Wade!

  8. Great article Laurie. I think we all struggle to find the right path no matter how old we are. Keep doing what you’re doing because you are indeed an inspiration.

    1. Geannie, I so appreciate that comment about being an inspiration, it reminds me of the why I do this. Who knows if there is a right path, maybe just right for now. Thanks.

  9. So much valuable thought food in here Lauri. You are a unique and talented individual.
    You are wise and caring, and the squirrel moments just add to your magic 😉
    Thank you for this post and regular encouragement. Best wishes and cyber hugs cut all you are continuing to work through x

    1. Thank you Al, you always know the right and best things to say.

  10. Now that I have retired, I too am searching for direction and have many of the same “that’s not me” responses you do to the classic avenues for making money as a photographer. Your use of themes (e.g., 7 days of textures) inspired me to try that as well and, although I haven’t shared a series on a theme yet, I used it shooting in New Orleans last Friday after completing arrangements for my son’s birth mother’s funeral. It definitely helped me change gears, engage with the city, and come away with a folder of images that seem to have some potential. Keep exploring. You’ll find your way. And blessings to your mom.

    1. Thank you so much Bette and I love seeing your themes now that you’ve started them. I think it’s important to stay true to ourselves as that helps narrow things down.

  11. Love the flow of your thoughts and commments. Love that so many of us are sharing the struggles of being creative seekers. Love that you artfully crafted questions – others’ answers are so irrelevant to read about. Love that I now feel more free to explore these questions and not just fret that I’m just stuck.

    Thanks to you.

    1. Always the one with the wise and supportive words you are Glen. Appreciate you taking the time to read and participate in the conversation.

  12. Such a good post, Lauri. I relate to much that you say – which probably doesn’t come as a surprise! (I must say that I also see many aspects of your Enneagram type 4 coming forth here, too, especially in the “strong conviction to be different.”) Curious to know how YOU would define success? I love that “you do you.” You do it well.

    1. I’m shocked. haha. Yes, that is a definition I need to hone in on in order to find more clarity on how to get there I suppose. A lot of what I consider success relates to happiness, it’s definitely not financial in my case. I can be successful without money.

  13. What a brave, open, thoughtful post, Lauri. I feel like I’ve been treading water, photographically, for the past few months, shooting the same things over and over and not really digging in the way I was a year ago. Ironically, now that I’ve retired from the day job I theoretically have all the time in the world to do what I want. Thanks for making me think about that, and perhaps begin my own re-examination of what I want to do with this craft.

    1. Treading water is a great analogy and my arms are getting tired. I have not been shooting much at all and am missing that part of me. I’m glad I could help you think about it and figure out what’s next for you. So much ahead!

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