The words, “Who am I and why I’m here,” provide the perfect context for my blog and why I’m blogging! I’m just starting a portrait photography business and one of the purposes of my blog is to communicate more about the client than what’s seen by the natural eye. After all, photography is “simply” communication through pictures. However, in today’s society our focus and emphasis places so much value on what we see (the superficial) that we often fail to recognize underlying beauty. Therefore, I would like to add an element of the unseen to my work by capturing the stories behind the individuals I photograph and how their lives can make a difference in the earth. The question I seek to answer about my clients is “Who are you, and how do you make a difference in the lives of others?” Mind you, I’m not at all SURE of how I’ll make that connection, but it is a work in progress!
To understand this ideal, you must first understand the basis of my conviction and elements of my background. I have been an educator all of my life and I’ve worked as a college professor for about nine years. The conceptual framework for my dissertation encompassed Viktor Frankl’s theory of Purpose in Life, conveyed in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning (Frankl, 1959)”. Frankl asserted that all people possess the will to meaning, in other words, all people are in search of meaning and purpose in life which ultimately, he believed, provides life fulfillment. However, he explained, when purpose is not fulfilled this creates an inner void, which Frankl described as the “existential vacuum”, often manifested as a state of boredom. In man’s attempt to fill this void, he pursues other things rather than purpose, for instance power or pleasure, which unfortunately leads to a greater void and often times antiisocial behaviors.
It is this assertion that begs the answer to the timeless, million-dollar question(s) “Who am I and why am I here? Although Frankl could not and would not answer that question for any person, his research provides guidance for personal discovery of meaning and purpose in life. According to Frankl (1959), people find purpose and meaning through any of the following HUMAN experiences, not Black, White, Asian, or Latino people experiences, but simple human experiences: (a) by creating a work or doing a deed, (b) the love we have for others, (c) or by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering. Additionally, when he described purpose and meaning, he adds that this is not indicative of one’s destiny or life vocation, although this could be the case. However, he described this ability to find purpose and meaning through normal day-to-day experiences that may seem insignificant to most people. Frankl was a prisoner in the concentration camps of World War II, and for him, meaning and purpose could be derived through giving someone else his last piece of bread, although he himself was starving.
I believe Frankl’s theory is exemplified in contemporary society’s obsession with beauty and the dissatisfaction that accompanies it. Although outward beauty is not a bad thing and is terribly good in many ways, it can easily become a source of frustration as the “perfect beauty” is simply unattainable. For example, I, like many other women desire to “look good”. However, I notice the more I look in the mirror, the more flaws I see!!! Frustrating, right! But when I focus on my ability to make a difference in the lives of others, the importance of looking perfect begins to diminish a bit more… and that is a beautiful experience! So then, “who am I and why am I here,” photographing and blogging that is? I believe one reason is to capture my clients’ outward beauty seen by others, but every bit as important, to help them see the greater beauty that lies within. The ability to make a difference.
Maybe this seems a bit extreme and ambitious for a photography company. I can see that! But it is my hope that this underlying objective for my blog and business will resonate with the people I photograph, and make a difference in how they see themselves in the context of the world we live in.