Behind the Lens – Deep Breaths

exquisitrie by kelly sauer | floral design by kelly lenard | gown by aire barcelona

I have a friend who tells me that my work is very different from other photographers’ work – so different that while it catches attention, it leaves people wondering what to do with it. She is right, I think – even *I* don’t know what to do with it all the time.

Much of my work is comprised of the intimate details, the pieces of things, the raw emotion found in the smallest moments. Some of this is because many of my subjects and locations over the years have required me to “shoot around” things that don’t belong in photos – and some of this is just the way I see. Whatever the explanation, I have developed a style that apparently doesn’t immediately resonate with people – and getting noticed – and hired – is becoming more of a challenge.

On the one hand, I suppose this is a victory. I am differentiating. I stand out. But I am not a “safe” photographer. I don’t look like the big names who are reaping the benefits of the trends they’ve created, and my voice is very unique. My niche is small, limited in a way to amazing people who want to be creative, who value uniqueness, and who want to feel the way I feel them through my photography.

But it is what I hold in the other hand that leaves me wondering if I should keep going with all this. The “you are worthless” feeling that shattered me this week when I faced the reality that my business can’t even compete for a *free* wedding that I want to shoot. The “is this because I am having a baby?” and the “I had more queries *before* I relaunched my brand and portfolio” and the “you are utterly dispensable” that has been my wound for more years than I can count.

My therapist/midwife tells me I need to write “affirmations” for myself. Things to say to myself that will bolster my confidence and keep me living my best life. My honesty won’t allow me not to engage the discouragement, though. I don’t process things by letting them roll off or sweeping them under the carpet with an “it will be okay” mentality. I process by saying it out loud, looking it in the eye, and breathing through it.

This spring, I thought I was building physical endurance for giving birth to my new baby, but I am realizing that *this* is the endurance I am building for her birth and for my life: a way to look at the pain and to let it be what it is instead of lashing out against it and letting bitterness and disillusionment give me my identity. I may not be organized with my breathing in the yoga-type bonding exercises that make sense to a lot of people, but I know how to exist in the rise and fall of pain, and I do know how the intensity of it will fade and I will still be coming to life on the other side.

It has been an incredible April. This photo is just a tiny preview of what is coming, amazing collaborations that are awaiting processing and publication. It is the best work I have ever done, and I am still working and waiting and taking deep breaths as I go. I do believe that my time is coming and that what I am creating *is* worth something – I am not going to let the “labor” make me quit before the life comes.

5 thoughts on “Behind the Lens – Deep Breaths

  1. the Blah Blah Blahger

    You are worth so much more than the lies you are hearing in your head right now. God has an AMAZING plan for your career. I know this to be true. And I am so glad you are going to push through these labor pains and birth something spectacular!!!

  2. Danielle

    Love this, and it can be applied to so many various creative pursuits.

    That top image is breath-taking, by the way.

    I love how you see things with your lens. And yes, it’s the details and emotive aspect that you astound in. Even your still-life images have emotion. I think your images have a quality of mysteriousness to them, that perhaps not everyone is comfortable with.

  3. Frances

    Just wanted to thank you for posting this- I’ve been feeling down lately for similar reasons, though on a much smaller scale. My photos aren’t what people expect and might not be what some would consider “good”… but I like them a lot, and some kind people (often, relatives:) rave over them, which is nice. I sometimes feel like I should change, or be a certain kind of better. Anyways, your post was encouraging to me and I’m grateful!

  4. Diana Trautwein

    Now then. You listen to me, Kelly Sauer. You are a remarkable photographer, an artist, do you hear me? You have a unique style, you do not know how to take a ‘bad’ picture, you capture light better than anyone I’ve about ever seen. And you also capture the elusiveness of people – their gentleness, innocence, joy. THIS IS A GIFT. You tell that ugly voice in your head to shut the hell up, okay? FROM ME. (Can you see me over here, with my hands on my hips and my pointy finger wagging away??)

  5. lisa

    this moved me so much. so very much. thank you for reminding me that we creatives, who so often work so many hours alone, need affirmations and reminders of just how amazing we are. and how absolutely wonderful it is that He has found a gift in us to share with others.

    your work and your words are incredibly inspiring. keep doing wonderful things.