Yesterday I was sitting in my bedroom watching my little cat Fyona go about her daily tasks of hunting fuzzies and exploring a room she has slept in for a year as if she has never seen it. I went over to her, picked her up, and for the next few minutes she was glued to me, coming back to get more cuddles. I thought about how if I had not done that she would have still been going about her business, and I might have gotten bored and walked away. That little bit of interaction made me think about how often I change the lives of those around me, my cats included. Every time I made a decision, even if it is not a conscious one, to interact with someone or not to, I am directly affecting that person’s life.
How powerful of a feeling is that, to know that you have the power to make an impact in anyone’s life that you choose? I had never thought about it like that before. So often we feel helpless to help others because people tend to seem so distant. But what if we made more of an effort to reach out and touch others? I think this relates so directly to photography. Through photography and art we can share what our inner eye sees and affect people that way. Just by sharing what we do we are opening up a world of possibilities to the viewers of our art. Somehow this gives a new meaning to how I personally share my imagery online.
We as artists have a unique place in the world because we are so often creating and then giving. It is a never-ending cycle of create-give, create-give, and while the giving might not always be selfless, it is always going to touch somebody. There is a fear among artists that no one will enjoy what they have to give. There is a simple truth that I have come to recognize in the last few years of creating photographs: if I love something, someone else is bound to love it too. Alternately, if I love something, someone else is bound to hate it, and that is not a bad thing. It is easy to feel like the simple sharing of an art piece is an insignificant contribution to the world, but I think it can be and often is an extremely valuable way to interact with others, even those that you can’t meet in person. To share a piece of yourself with others is to open yourself up and let them see inside you; and in turn, you are touching someone personally.
Analogies are made in abundance about how small we are in a world so big; about how there are so many of us crowding the world. The fact is that one human can have a huge impact in so many lives. Whether it is me paying attention to my cat and therefore changing how she goes about her day, or sharing a new piece of art online, it is all about touching lives and doing it for the better. It is easy to feel powerless in this world, like you might never make a difference. The truth is, that will never be true. I can promise you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you make a difference in lives daily. When someone clicks the “like” button on my Facebook page I am filled with gratitude, and all it took was a click of a button. When someone holds a door for me at a coffee shop, I am reminded of how generous people are. When someone reaches out to me via email and I get to connect with a former stranger, I am reminded of how beautiful people are.
It doesn’t have to take more than a moment of your life to change someone else’s. Think about that. Think about how incredibly powerful you are. You have the power to change lives at the drop of a hat, by making any number of decisions. Hold a door, send an email, share your artwork and connect to someone you never would have known otherwise. I never used to see the beauty in connecting like that. Now, though, there is no turning back. Ever since photography entered my life I have known so much joy by simply taking control of my power and acknowledging others. It is amazing how much joy you notice when you start seeing the good in the world. And it is equally wonderful to acknowledge the power within yourself and exercise it; you never know whose life you might change today.