Giving Thanks for Distraction

Thanksgiving close to home has me thinking about focused photography elsewhere.

My Thanksgiving was quiet…deliberately so. My family and I chose to stick close to home, celebrating the day with just the three of us, me in the kitchen for most of the day and loving it. Perhaps it’s the pandemic, perhaps it’s my workload, perhaps it’s the stress of 2020 in several ways, but I’ve been drawn more toward recharging at home lately.

At the same time, I feel the pull of getting out and making photos. That’s happened only a few times this year (see: pandemic/workload/stress), which is why I keep thinking about my last-minute trip to Leavenworth, Washington a few weeks ago to catch the last of the fall color. The trip was just as much about getting out and focusing on something different as it was about capturing photos. Focusing on making photos, without being in front of a computer, allowed my brain to shift sideways in a pleasant way, even though for most of the day I felt like my photographic skills had atrophied and I was re-learning them.

I had a similar experience in January, when, just a few days after my father passed away, I went to Whidbey Island to shoot an AirBnB property. The sensible thing to do would have been to reschedule, but we’d arranged the time weeks ahead. I was able to not think about anything besides taking photos, problem-solving in a small space (it was my first experience shooting real estate photos), and generally getting out of my own head. Just as it’s important for me to remember to take walks to get out of the house, it’s equally important sometimes to shift my surroundings and mental state.

I hope you’ve been able to use photography or another creative pursuit to get through this year, too. I’d love to hear how you’ve been coping.

The photo at the top of this post was captured at the end of the day as I was headed home. Long rows of birch trees edged the road, and the sun was about to drop behind a mountain. Although I was tired with a couple hours of driving ahead of me, I pulled over and shot a series of photos from across the road. It’s one of a handful of favorites from that day.

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