My Lens Abroad » Capturing My Expat Adventures With My Lens

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Let’s talk photography…

I’ve been walking around with an ache.  I’ve been missing my passion, the one that I’ve dreamed of doing since I was quite young.  When I say young, I mean a girl who wore braces and now has a very beautiful smile.

But, building your own business does not happen overnight and anything worth having is going to take work.  You don’t hang a shingle outside and clients line up around the block.  With the years of hard work, I felt was achieving that in the US and it felt wonderful.  It takes dedication and you do less shooting and more business based work.  However, when you do the shooting there is nothing like it in the world.  The ability to take a hesitant client, get those images, frame by frame, and feel that you captured moments that tell a unique story. The other great part is uploading your files and seeing them all come alive, all clean and before any editing.  Lastly, is showing them to the client and having them be satisfied.  In this type of work, I have met a wide array of people.  Whether that be warm families at weddings, bridesmaids that felt like friends or a grandmother, that in a brief garden conversation, healed the deep pain and grief I was feeling in recently losing my own grandmother.  People just have that effect on me.

So why have I been walking around Rome “on empty” in such a lovely place?  If you look through my lens, there are only so many architectural images to capture and my six-year-old suddenly has no patience for my craft.  While are a plethora of other reasons of my inability to work here, however I get questions.  Not nagging ones about “when will you get your proverbial act together?” they come from me.  Instead, I get questions about learning,  Not of my own skill refinement, but others wanting to learn my craft from me.

At first I found this request completely hysterical and daunting.  How can I share my knowledge when I think of the Photography Workshops I’ve been to?  The people I’ve heard speak?  I am not Cliff Mautner, Kevin Kubota or Susan Stripling?  I am Heather O’Mara, a wanderlust photographer with a closet of equipment that is shouting at her to use.  My lenses, flashes and tripods are really angry with me.  Don’t even get me started on the reflector, she is pissed.

But I did it.  My friend Inma broke me down and I met with her to understand what she needed.  And my sweet Spanish friend needed teaching of basics that I could handle.  However, she brought a Pentax camera and a manual in Spanish.  Let’s face it, the controls were just in different places.  As we sat in the park, I saw the look on her face as she was starting to switch her camera from automatic to–yikes–manual.  She was no longer afraid of that “M” word.  As she was shooting, she was asking questions on each frame, her confidence began to grow. She was elated and so was I.

Now, we have not stopped there.  We’ve begun doing Photowalks of our own and invited others.  We’ve talked about light and how to manage it.  How they need to dismiss legends of “the worst time to take a photograph” or ‘always look for shade”.  Light is a beautiful thing.  You can use it as a way of framing a face and highlighting features.  Don’t ever run from it, harness it.

So on that day as we finished, I had lost something.  I looked everywhere for it.  I could not find it and I was not upset at all.  My ache had left me and I had now found a great fulfilling way to replace it.


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