PERSONAL | ON A WHIM

I can't really explain exactly why I haven't taken any personal photos with my "good" camera for so long.  More than a year in fact.  Most of my friends in the photography world will know that this is something I have battled with for so long - the guilt of not capturing my family despite having the tools and know-how to.  I see so many in the photography world photographing their everyday so wonderfully and authentically, and while I have a deep appreciation for it, I just stopped feeling the need and urge to do the same.

I photograph 2-3 clients a week, and I am so fortunate to have clients that trust me to just "do what I do" and let me have free creative reign.  I get so much satisfaction from my client work and I am lucky that it also provides a creative outlet for me to constantly explore and expand, while continuing to have happy clients who love what I am creating for them, and I'm able to making a living while I'm at it.  To be in that position is every creative's dream!

Recently I had a 1:1 session with my guru and mentor Yan Palmer, and she gave me permission to stop feeling guilty about not photographing my family, and to just be present and enjoy them in the moment.  It was completely ok for me to leave my camera at my desk and only take it out for client work.  She reminded me that we all need a break to ensure our creativity stays alive, and shooting 2-3 sessions a week meant I needed the down time in between shoots to stay fresh.  It was completely okay.  Phew.  One less thing I had to feel guilty about!

But last night something magical happened.  I watched my bearded love building our kids' trampoline in our new backyard while my sweet Archie danced around the yard with carefree abandon, filling the air with laughter and songs.  The sun was slowly sinking and lit up our veggie patch and chicken pen (which we are yet to fill).  In a week that has been a pretty hard one, it was a magic, happy moment.  I felt so full and content.  The urge grabbed me and I ran inside for my camera - an urge that I haven't felt in the longest time.  A combination of the light, the sounds, the people and our new home and I was filled with inspiration to capture it.

These images mean so much.

Truth | Shooting With Soul Blog Circle | July 2015

I talk a lot about honest photography.  Celebrating authenticity.  Embracing messy.  But why?  Maybe because the further I dive into the creative journey of photography, the more I am realising that my best work comes when I am tapping into those places within myself.

I used to truly believe that if people knew the chaotic and tangled parts of me, then there's no way I would ever get booked!  I used to make a concerted effort to paint the perfect picture of who I was and only share the good (hashtag so blessed).

Want to know something?  Once I started really owning my shit, and loving, embracing and sharing the crazy, the difficult, and the complex parts of my life, an incredible shift occurred.  My life became richer.  I started attracting SO.MUCH.GOOD.  Sublime people.  Clients who get me.  Who trust me.  Full hearts.  Ridiculous amounts of joy.  Love.  Connection.  Not just in my work life, but in my personal life, too.

I describe the way it feels to photograph people now as flying a kite.  It feels free.  It feels true.  Someone once asked me how I create the connections between people in my photographs.  The answer is vulnerability.  I don't "create" anything, I just encourage what is already there in front of me.  Their connections are real, because I'm real with them.  They are open, because I am open with them.  When you are prepared to take the risk and be vulnerable, people respond with equal vulnerability.  Something that was impossible to achieve when I was hell bent on being "perfect".  

That's what being authentic is about.  I'm not afraid anymore to share my mess, and I embrace the truth of everyone I meet.  I refuse to paint the picture of the perfect life.  People want to connect with something that's real, and I won't live another day being anything but real.

I am so lucky to be part of a gorgeous, close, wonderful group of photographers who are never afraid to share their wisdom, their gains, their failures, their hopes and their dreams.  Shooting With Soul is a collective of women who simply love what they do, because for them, it goes deeper than it just being a job.

Please click through to see my favourite documentary photographer Natasha Kelly Photography's SWS blog post for July.

YAN FAM WAY WORKSHOP | MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

Back in March, I attended the workshop of the incredible Yan Palmer of YANphotography in Phillip Island, just outside of Melbourne.  Yan, a US based photographer, is renowned for being the "it-girl" of modern family lifestyle photography.   My expectations for the day were high, I was buzzing with excitement, and she did not disappoint. The experience started a few days before the workshop with a full review and feedback of my work, my website, blog and social media.  The review was in depth, harsh (in a completely constructive way) and meaningful.  The biggest thing I took away from her feedback, and into the workshop, was WHY does my personal work differ so greatly from my paid client work?  Why am I not exercising the creative freedom and embracing the imperfection when money is involved?  It was a lightbulb moment.  While my client work was technically good, well lit, well composed etc, it lacked the heart, depth and soul of my personal work.

This lightbulb moment stirred an enormous change within me.  The more Yan's words resonated on the day, the more I realised what the root of this was.  I cried, I nodded and I knew what I needed to do.

Almost two years ago, the life I imagined and dreamed for myself and my family was thrown upside down.  I separated from my son's Dad, and embarked on the journey of single parenthood.  It was an impossibly hard decision, but something that needed to happen.  This has always been something I've kept private when it came to my professional persona.  Photographing happy, very together (!) families, I believed that I needed to present myself as the same.  Even up until recently, past clients have asked me if I'm thinking about having another baby, having absolutely no idea that I have been raising this little man on my own for almost two years.  When I looked at how this related to my work - I realised that when I am shooting just for me, I am free to be the messy, imperfectly perfect Mum and human that I am.  I was so scared that if people saw my struggles, saw that I wasn't the perfect picture of family and togetherness, that I wouldn't get booked.  But in doing that, I lost sight of myself, and to an extent, that came through in my client work.  I was too focused on things being so perfect, that I wasn't seeing what was really there, and I wasn't putting my truth and my heart into what I was photographing.

The biggest thing that I took away from Yan is, my journey isn't something I should hide, ever.  The messy, the difficult and the hard are all things that have made me who I am - and I need to celebrate it.   I have decided that from this point forward, I will shoot from my soul at EVERY session, showing people how beautiful their lives are, even the messiest, hardest parts, because that is where we truly connect.  I get it.  Life is so far from perfect, no matter who you are, but it's still amazing and beautiful - all of it.

We were so lucky to get a chance to see Yan in action at a shoot in the afternoon.  Here are some images I took of the most gorgeous little family.

Yan, thank you for allowing me to see that imperfection and truth is something to be celebrated.

Lark + Bear Blog Goes LIVE! Again...

Well hello there! A year ago I launched my brand new website after an extensive rebrand from Amy Rushbrook Photography to Lark + Bear Photography.  I spent literally hundreds of hours building and perfecting that website.  But like all things over time, I evolved and so did my style.  That required another website build, and a new blog rebuild!  I am keen to start fresh, showcasing only the best of my work across a beautiful layout and platform.  I am so happy to have you here, and here's to this one sticking for longer than a year!  I can't wait to share images from all the incredible families I have worked with.

I would love to hear your feedback if you have the time!  Comments and shares are most welcome!

Amy