julia diane photography

photography in the natural world, wonder & discover. 

Awakening Beauty :: Goddess Portraits at Spirit Weavers

With the most magnificent group of women, we convened. Two weeks of redwood magic, camping, crafting, sharing, illuminating, ceremonial awakenings, being. This is the Spirit Weavers Gathering. We meet, with open hearts. To Awaken Beauty, the inherent feminine energy, the goddess.

Here I was blessed with the opportunity to share my craft of photography. The self-portrait. This was actually my first time teaching photography formally to a group of grown women (I taught children in the past :) and it was such a Joy!!! I have been at it, taking pictures for almost 20 years now. I remember the first 'real' camera I got, a polaroid!! And then the 110 mm, and finally a 35mm point and shoot in my teens. It wasn't until college that I got my first camera with an interchangeable lens! But there, I found pure magic. I remember using a tripod for the first time. When it was a sunrise in the winter, snow glistening on railroad tracks, casting a purple and gold hue that illuminated the frosty white crystals. I was always in Love with photography, but I think in that moment, it was sealed completely. The camera and I were great friends.

I always shied away from having my own picture taken. Unless I was with friends, or running, or in a really sweet state of mind. :) It never occurred to me to take self-portraits, until I thought about getting into portraiture in general. Directing people wasn't the vision I had, as I'm pretty introverted, and I really feel comfortable in nature, so that's what I always gravitated toward. But something changed. There was a spark, I needed to connect with people on a more intimate level, through the lens was where I wanted to start. What better way to learn, than on myself first?!

Thus the self-portrait seed was planted. It has only been a year. Since I began this journey, of self exploration, in a new way. It seems like lifetimes. All of it came so naturally. The only hurdle to overcome was my own self image. How do I see me? 

Step into the light. 

Begin. Feel the place, be there. Breathe it in, touch the earth. Connection.

Before the camera comes out, I want to know the place. I want to be there, to meditate on it. To smell it, listen close, to walk barefoot on it, no barriers. 

This is the real. I am ready...

To inspire this in others, that is something special. The only way to understand is to experience this feeling. It comes from connection to the earth, to the sky, to the sun, to the moon. It doesn't all come at once, and patience to see is in the listening. The shifts in the breeze, the movement of the water, the tiny creatures that live there, the beauteous plants. It is all about tuning in, to the greater cycles, to feel the universe, the cosmos. Then coming back in. Those details, the wonderment that lives there, how the patterns repeat from the micro to the macrocosm. 

So what was it like at Spirit Weavers? Simply Beautiful.

The women, the connection. I can't even begin to explain the energy that was shared, the experiences and the learning. What showed up for each of us was so unique and amazing, yet tied to the same thing. We are all students. We all have an individual journey, yet we come together, and we collectively help each other, to grow, to open, to be full in our hearts. 

My personal journey was one that went high and low, extreme in a sense, but also gentle in awakening. Perfectly designed for me. For my seeing. And each of us can attest to that magic. In how we experience growth there is through our ability to open, to be raw. There is no judgement in that either. I must admit, my first week was pretty challenging. I had an infection on my foot, and it basically forced me to rest that entire first session. I didn't expect to return. I thought, this is it, I can't do it again. But through a series of situations in the days in between each gathering, I dove straight in. I went to the lowest, then to the heights. This was all a process of letting go. The attachments to certain people or physical things can be very strong, and what I was dealing with was deep. I kept going. I listened. I heeded the call for healing, to try something new, and to trust.

This post has turned into something much more than I expected. It is more than the photography. It is art, it is the process of going in, and sharing. Thank You for diving in with me. 

Going into the second week of Spirit Weavers, I still didn't know if I would return, the day before the gathering started. I still trusted. I contacted my friend who was on her way, and graciously she offered for me to stay with her and friends just outside the gathering the night before. This was the true blessing. I felt held, I felt safe. The day just opened up more & more. And this continued all the way to the gathering. Here I was, again.

Chocolate, check. Tent, check. My Self, check. I was present, alive. Ready to begin the journey, round two. My shift in mind & heart, it was real, and it showed. I felt like a completely different person, but more of my Self. Ready to share, to inspire, to be inspired! It's amazing how much our inner energy can be seen & felt by others. It radiates. 

The Goddess Portraits, I was ready to teach. I always do my best to keep a high mind when sharing my craft, so the teaching can come through, and not my own personal problems. Yet I noticed how different the two sessions were in teaching, and I am grateful I had the second chance to share. I attracted some truly beautiful ladies to both sessions, and wow, I am so impressed by their openness to experience and really connect to the camera.  

What I noticed most of all was the number of women that appeared. The first week I worked with three amazing women, each in such powerful grace. The second week I was delighted to see seven incredible ladies show up. All I had to do was share a short bit of guidance on my practice, how I open up and feel nature, the basics of the camera and timer settings, they did the rest. I love what came through. The energy, so strange and beautiful. Each matching their unique spirit. I think you can see that in the photos we created. I just Loved it so much!! 

It doesn't end here. It is just the beginning. We weave our lives, together, sharing. We inspire. this is the most powerful thing. Inspiration, and it comes from a creative force within. All of us, we can tap in. It only requires an open heart, receptive to Love. This is true connection, to what is within, no image. It's all in the process. It never was about the image.

With Love, J

 

It's not about the camera.

It's inevitable that I get asked what equipment I use when making photographs. This is the artists' tool. The question comes up almost daily, and I want to address it because it is important. Although in another sense, it's not important at all. 

Yes, this tool allows me to make the vision a reality. To bring what I see into form, into permanence. But the actual thing itself, the camera, has changed over the years and my vision continues to grow regardless of the equipment. I have chosen the particular tool that I use to express my inner vision. But that doesn't mean that if you choose the same tool, you will get the same, or even similar results. Not at all. 

The quality of the camera allows for light to be captured in a certain way, to individuate colors particularly, and the grain and quality of the image affected. So I have chosen the Sony RX1R if you're wondering. :) It's compact, so I am not burdened by size and weight. It's full frame and pro quality, so I can make prints that are sharp and a largish size. It's easy to use, once you learn how to use it! I can operate it fully manually if I choose, which is incredibly important for my work. And I am able to set a timer, which I use for self-portrait making. The only drawback is that the lens is fixed, can't be changed from the 35mm, but is super sharp and high quality. The lens is everything. If you want to make quality prints, it's all about the lens. So in this sense, yes, it is about the camera. But much more importantly, the vision you are creating as an artist needs to take center stage. 

What is your vision? Why does it matter? 

This is a question I revisit constantly as an artist. Does what I'm doing matter? Yes. It is essentially for you, the artist, the work. Not for anyone else. It must be that first and foremost. Then think about how the work is shared and consumed. Art is an exploration of the self. The waves of inspiration, the light, the darkness, the flow, the stagnation, all of it. Share it all. That is how we connect most deeply to one another. 

Lately, working on composite images has been really fun for me. Searching my archives, thinking what can work together, combined feeling states, and compositionally matching images. The singular image is also really special, what I discovered at a certain moment in time, witness to the pure beauty. 

It just feels good to share. I think we are here to do just that, and learn from each other. Learn through reflections, about our self. Reflections of other beings, or places or things. It will change, shift and never stay the same. Through art we can express our truth, what we are working through, musing with, witnessing and experiencing in our humanness. 

So, to get into my process, how do I do it? I push. I pull. I waver. And I rise above it all. To take action. To feel what is moving through me. And I begin. It starts with a vision. What do I want to see, to experience? It is beauty. Pure and true. So I go there. I search for what makes me feel that beauty, often times in nature. I get out there. Make the time. Make it real. 

Nature for me is my place of peace. Where I go to be freely me. I can do it anywhere, that is real, but in nature it just is so pure. It is heaven. The elements embrace me, I feel. I breathe. Then I take out my camera. There is so much beauty, and I truly get excited. Like really excited ;) those of you that have been with me in nature, know!! Ha! 

Sharing it, that is a part of the process. To see what is taken in by others, to see what relates. It's a part of art that is strange, and can be a process of judgement when taken too deep, but also a process of transformation and connection. It can allow us to see different, and even see our self better when we share. When we interact. When we give our self freely. It is like Love. 

Sea Self // Portraiture

:: Open up

darkness clouds not the Loving

Be free

highest being of Beauty ::

Where have I immersed myself most in photography lately? It is through self portraits, where I'm the maker and the subject, that I have come to learn the most. This recent exploration has deepened my connection to the world and how I live in it. It has allowed for breakthroughs. In my relating to Others, and to my Self. How so? It's all in the process, where I push myself outside of comfort, into an unknown. Out in nature there is no control, it's only allowing, and seeing what exists in beauty. Maybe this is what attracts me to being outside, making photos, where I don't know the conditions that will exist when I arrive. It is a mystery, even when I know the location. There are variables of weather, the people, light that is always changing. It's rarely as you expect. :)

Through this experience, letting go of any expectation of the conditions, then I can drop in and show my Self. I am free. 

I can then share my experience through a photograph. What comes across, is it a feeling state, an immersion into the scene? Here I can begin relating to others. For me, the process of opening up to my Self, more deeply and truly, has compelled me to share it with others. Through this, I find that people naturally open up and want to share their story, or feelings. I've become more real, and so has the rest of the world to me. Thank you for your participation!

Where I find myself always seems to be near the sea. I have this deep connection to saltwater, the little creatures, the tides. I grew up on a saltwater bay, and I would spend hours exploring in the sand, immersing myself in this microcosm. My dreams are filled with ocean seas and shells. I am called to be there. The waters speak to me, flowing gracefully, and fiercely. It's no wonder I find myself taking self portraits there too. I love the challenge of working with these elements that move. Synching into the flow of the waves, making sure my camera is safe and stable, wind and salt spray blasting the camera; the ocean has an incredible energy to work with. 

It's simple how it works, but the right tools are necessary. I've got my camera & a tripod with quick release. Then I have the camera set on a timer, and run in front! Positioning myself in the right place can take a few frames, then playing with the light in the sunrise or sunset makes efficiency key, the time I love most to capture color. Such a mesmerizing process to participate in! Gotta get out there and just do it!!! 

Making Images

Originally posted on 'The Rose Journals'

Deciding to take a picture has many stages. Having all your tools prepared, in good condition, is the first step to get out there. Feeling comfortable using what you have. Then where to go, will it be planned or spontaneous photo making? I tend to be methodical about my photography, and generally visit where I want to take photographs multiple times before taking out my camera. If there are spontaneous moments, great! I love that, but the majority of my work is planned out, with the tide tables, weather conditions, waves, or sunrise & sunset times. I really think about it, and enjoy the planning. Then deciding to go. This is where it can become a challenge. Getting yourself out there, to potentially find something great, or nothing at all. It takes a leap to push yourself outside the comfort, to be seen. At least for me, this is the challenge. What I see is so great, that I can’t not get out there.  I have learned to listen to my intuition on when to go, and when not to go. To be in a good state of mind, or being able to shift in an instant. I’ve learned so much about my Self through photography. I feel that anything you’re passionate about, since you really care, there will be blocks in getting to your ‘goal’ of physically taking pictures, or just beginning to do it. To overcome the blocks, there can be many different ways to deal. For me, I always like to ask the question why? What am I using these images for? IS there a puropose? If that’s clear, it’s much easier to get out there. Dive in deep to the process, and connect it to your reasoning, while staying open to a spontaneous flow. If conditions start to look better somewhere else, I will usually shift my plans and go where it feels right. Sometimes I miss the mark. I don’t get the shot, but it’s okay. I’ve gone out there, and pushed to discover more. It’s all about learning.

What do I see and how do I see it? I think it’s my continuous wondering about life, the structure, the beauty, the harmony. Nature compels me to see the whole of this, why I’m attracted to it, and witnessing the details within the structure of the whole. I’m interested in the ocean, our waters, the mysterious ways underneath the surface. It’s a process of discovery for me, and since I’m not so much into the science of it all, I can witness in another way, where I truly connect to the flowing nature of it all through the tides. I do respect the learning that can be had through science, those parts, and hopefully there can be discoveries where we can reverse any damage that has been done by humans. Although, I think that they miss the mark, by not seeing the wholeness, the interconnected nature of beauty, and all systems of life. So this is what I hope to share. Maybe the two can be connected, and we can both come to better understandings.

Specifically, when I see the ocean, the little creatures, the waves, I think this love for it comes from my childhood. I grew up on a saltwater bay, and would play down there every day for hours. No limits, just discovering. It all came back to me a few years ago when I rediscovered my love for photography. I wanted to see more. Instead of simply witnessing, I wanted to feel the beauty and magic of the waters. It wow’s me every time. Being in that state of awe will come through in the pictures, and with anything you do. If you love something that much, it comes through. Developing the skill takes many years, just like any art or creative endeavor, takes time. Focus in on your personal style and tell a story. Open up to the world.

Through the process of making my images I’ve seen that to go further requires a leap, a release of fear. So when I go out there, I really take it in. I step into the waters, get my feet wet. Risk getting too close. It’s funny, I’ve dropped my cameras multiple times, the phone goes into the tidepools, I get sand everywhere. But that’s just part of the process. It can be frustrating in the moment, but it’s just a reminder to slow down, to be present and mindful. When you see the images, know that there are multiple steps to make it happen, and to truly appreciate the art. Putting yourself out there can go really deep.

If you really want to see into my inner workings, the parts where I see something that needs to be made into an image, I will attempt to relay. It may be a certain light, an illumination of a subject, this is what photography captures. I see a certain subject, like an anemone, and how the light hits the tiny tenticles, or how fully open it has become, where it lays in composition with other formations and how that all comes together. It’s looking at the parts, and becoming a whole. The whole is the rectangle space where the image is captured. The parts are the composition and forms in the photograph. Then there is the magic, the component you can’t quite describe, but there’s something extra there, it gives you a feeling. That part, I think comes from a connection. How you connect this object, the camera to that living thing. Opening up your heart and mind to the wonder. That is connection.

 

Seeing

What is it that's seeing? The eyes are one physical part to this puzzle. This is how photographic imagery is produced, by seeing through the eyes. But what beyond the physical attributes? To make compelling imagery that has a sense of wonder, there must be something beyond the eye seeing. In this seeing there is an openness, one must drop any blocks that are preventing being in a state of wonder. Feel where you are, be there. Open the mind to discovery.