It’s New Year’s Eve, the time when one’s inbox is about to get flooded with ways to Start The Year Right, and Reshape Your Life, and How to Make Goals That Will Change Your Life! (I’m always a little skeptical about those emails; I get that January 1 can be the catalyst for change if you need a nudge, but I’m a bit more of a change course as I go, rather than waiting for a specific timepoint.) It’s also a time to reflect on the last year, and this is that. Sort of. I’m not going to go through the clients I’ve had, the money I’ve made, or any of the business goals that people sometimes like to focus on. This is about me.
Me. Just in case you were wondering. Early 2020. Crappy cell phone photo, photo credit: my husband.
I started off the year still in a bit of a slump. I lost my heart dog in April of 2020, about a month after the pandemic lockdown, and while I wouldn’t have said at the time that I was depressed, the combination of losing Fi and not being able the things I normally do to heal my soul definitely left me depressed. Sure, I got out of bed, walked the dogs, and actually lost quite a bit of weight. But I didn’t have the fire to do the things that brought me joy. I worked a ton at my day job (which I truly love), and I kept putting one foot in front of the other, but the creative fire was lost for a while.
Fi, my heart.
At the start of 2022, I began to feel the first stirrings of creativity. I started taking more photos of my own dogs, I began to take both photography technique classes (if I’m not learning something new, I get bored, and there are ALWAYS things to learn) and business classes. I played around with a bunch of different ideas, trying to find that fire. I began photographing at the animal shelter again, and got involved in Salt Lake County Animal Service’s Hounds Around Town program where volunteers get dogs out of the kennels and take them on adventures. About the same time, I started discovering the street art in Salt Lake City, and convinced one of the volunteers to humor my attempts to photograph some of the Hounds Around Town dogs in front of the street art.
I did more of this, and got more and more interested in the street art, the artists, and the entire experience. And the more of these ‘sessions’ I shot, the more inspired I got, and the Shelter Dogs and Street Art project was born. This project has really sparked that creative fire in me that I had lost. (And helped me realized what I had been missing for almost 2 years. It’s okay; that’s life, and in all honestly, I appreciate the excitement that comes with inspiration and creativity even more, having known what it is like to have lost it for a while.)
I’m an introvert, and the lockdown didn’t bother me too much, but it made it very easy for me to stay in my comfort zone – my home, my neighborhood, areas that I know. The Shelter Dogs and Street Art project has forced me (in a good way!) to get out of my comfort zone and go to places in Salt Lake City I probably never would have gone otherwise, and meet amazing people that I definitely would not have met. I’ve already met so many amazing artists, wonderful people who have adopted dogs from shelters and rescues, and people who keep inspiring me to push this project forward. I know that this project is perfect for me when I don’t hesitate to pick up the phone to call a business to see if I can shoot inside their locked parking area to get a specific mural, when I ordinarily HATE talking on the phone.
Crane: 7583 S. Main St., Midvale
Artist: Matt Monsoon @mattmonsoon
1st Ave. and Main St., Midvale, Utah
So, 2022 was definitely a year of rebirth for me. Having been ‘lost’ for a bit, I know what’s important to me – finding joy in life, and stoking the creative fires so photography is truly fun for me. I’m not looking to ever make photography a full-time job (I really do love my day job!) and keeping that in mind, I want to make sure I’m having fun. Yes, I’d like to cover my expenses and keep up my equipment and continue my education, but if I’m not having fun, it’s just work. I’m looking forward to 2023, and where this Shelter Dogs and Street Art project takes me, because this is the most alive I have felt in several years and it is FANTASTIC!