Earlier this month I signed up for a G+ Mentorship Program for Photographers. The one I applied for was not your traditional mentorship where you explore a particular technique like “How do you See” or “Blur and Unsharp”, but one more focused on an interior exploration. I’ve embarked on a six week journey called “Breathing in Beauty, Creativity & Gratitude”.

Our first weeks assignment has been to explore the concept of gratitude. We were asked to keep a journal and write in it three things we are grateful for each day. We’re also given daily prompts and questions to get us to begin thinking; thinking about our lives, our daily interactions, how we judge others and ourselves.

This first week I’ve been thinking about my work and how it relates to gratitude. This has been a very interesting lens to look through. How can we reflect gratitude through imagery and how can it inform the creative process? Try it. Think about your work and the word ‘gratitude’. How do they relate? Do you take photos of things in your life you’re grateful for? Do you express your own gratitude through your work? Are you grateful for photography as a creative medium for self expression? How does your internal creative process inform your photography and visa versa?

This has been a fun challenge and I’ve enjoyed thinking about my photos with this new lens, this new attitude.

So far my biggest take-away has been to really appreciate how much I enjoy being a parent. Motherhood was never something I aspired to, in fact most people (my parents and husband included) never thought I would be good at it. But no matter how many mistakes I’ve made (and like all parents I’ve made my fair share) I can look at my kids and I know they’re not only growing up into amazing people, but they’re thriving. I can see my own success as a mother reflected in their carefree and joyful childhood.

I haven’t take many new photos this week; the weather has been less than inspiring (wind and rain all week). But I have been thinking about past photos and how they might relate to this topic of gratitude and parenting. I was surprised (no not really) to find there was another red thread moving through my work that clearly expresses my own feelings about parenting and being a parent. Per usual, it’s always been there, I just needed to look for it.

Stormy Friendship

Stormy Friendship

When somebody loves me

When somebody loves me

There is peace even in the storm

There is peace even in the storm


Everything is better at the beach.

 ...and baby makes three.

…and baby makes three.

Its nice to stop and take a look at what you’re creating and why. This mentorship has been the perfect opportunity for me to do just that. I know I’ve enjoyed what I’ve discovered already; the themes that already run through my work as well as what’s missing. Through the mussings of my fellow participants in this mentorship I realize I have much to learn and much to be grateful for.

I invite you to look through your own photography with a lens of gratitude and see what you discover. I would be curious to know if you do look, do find your own red thread already there, simply waiting to be discovered like I did? Has this idea inspired you to look at your photography differently? Or maybe you find this line of creative inquiry boring? Either way I would like to know what you think in the comments below.

~ Shelly

I’m sure you will hear more about this mentorship as I progress and hopefully you won’t be too bored. Next week I will announce our next photo contest as well as talk about an interesting challenge posed to me by AliceinCleveland through our G+ Community.