The Broken Photographer and the deeper WHY

"Good Morning, World!"  The view from my room in Hawai'i.  Yeah, I know... I took part in an international photographers mastermind group. You probably wouldn't believe it was "all work and no play for me". THAT was poor planning on my part.

"Good Morning, World!"  The view from my room in Hawai'i.  Yeah, I know...
I took part in an international photographers mastermind group. You probably wouldn't believe it was "all work and no play for me". THAT was poor planning on my part.

Understanding has levels. It is the experience of "the way it is."

Have you ever experienced the gut-punch of wisdom that made itself fully known in the thump of a single heartbeat?  And then have you tried to explain that full concept in a logical sequence? Well, I'm about to do just that, so wish me success.

P.S., I will be using the words photographer and artist interchangeably.  You know SEO and Google love that.

Why do you create?

If you've been an artistic business for a while, you've heard the words "know your why."  Why are you in business? Why do you create your specific art? Knowing your why is a very specialized knowledge that influences everything from your creations to your marketing, and everything in between.

I've shared my reasons (my "why") behind creating art here and here.  And each of them is true...at their own levels. 

During the presentations at the conference, a new level of understanding was reached. A new level of understanding that felt fully credible.  And I felt this level of understanding girds the authenticity of one's art and photography, business, marketing, and one's place in the art world.

As I considered successful photographers a strong stream of authenticity could be felt.  And that authenticity was consistent throughout the art, the business, the marketing. The consistent theme amongst them? They had all experienced a "brokenness."

Is that authenticity related to "brokenness?"

Brokenness in the photographer

Granted, "brokenness" is a heart-stopping word.  "Broken" brings images of something torn to pieces, shattered edges, something (or someone) less than whole.  Broken is felt to be "bad", sorrowful. Perhaps, to be "broken" is politically incorrect.

Let's define "brokenness" for the sake of clarity.

Brokenness is the residue of past traumatic events.  The traumas could have occurred during childhood or as adults. Yet, the experiences and wisdom born from the traumatic events opened a way for the artist to make the lives of others a little bit better. 

Authentic artists build from their brokenness

"Examples?", you ask.

The woman was told her son's condition was incompatible with life. She (a photographer) spent weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit with her son; him straddling the invisible thin line between life and death. Her experience and knowledge led to her exceeding success as a compassion photographer. She documented the tenuous lives of newborns. Her art gave grieving parents the impenetrable truth their child existed and was loved.

The little girl believed something was wrong with her because her parents divorced and her family was broken. Her adult art celebrates the joy of childhood. Everything about her branding and marketing echoes the message "Your family has glorious kids. Kids, you are valuable."

The eight-year-old girl who parented her younger siblings became the photographer whose art reveres connection with the divine. Her work is sought by patrons because they can feel the solace and quiet through her works. Her branding and marketing honor the soulfulness in her clients.

It seems the brokenness gave meaning, or purpose, to the work of the artists. Clients can feel the authenticity and connect with the heart of the artist.

But it makes my heart sing

At one time, in the early steps of my art/photography business journey, I thought it was enough that my "why" was my art "made my heart sing."  And yes, it is good that whatever you create does bring you joy or satisfaction.

Today, I think the "makes my heart sing" is all about the artist/photographer instead of the needs/wants/desires of potential clients.  It seems difficult, if not impossible to brand your business and marketing as the "it's all about me" artist.

Can you define yourself and your art or photography other than it makes your heart sing? Does your art have a purpose or a meaning?  What purpose or meaning are your clients buying? How is your art improving lives, or conditions?

My last Hawai'ian sunset - until the next time.

My last Hawai'ian sunset - until the next time.

Let's wrap this up

So, I've given it a go...did I accomplish my goal? Was I able to communicate the fullness of what was a "gut-flash"?

Tell me your thoughts on this subject. You can comment below, via email, or over on the Facebook page.

And if you found these ideas thought provoking, please share!