Photo Therapy

As I mentioned in my Go Girl Run post last week, and as many of you probably noticed before that, I took a bit of a hiatus over the summer. This break was completely unplanned, quite the opposite in fact. I had intended to post quite frequently throughout the summer. I worked a handful of mud runs, did my first maternity shoot, took a vacation to Colorado and Wyoming, and have been exploring my new home state of Kansas. And don't worry, I'll still be sharing all of the corresponding photos in the coming weeks! Life, however, just got in the way of me sharing these adventures in real time.

Without getting into too many specifics, I do want to explain a bit of what has been keeping me away, and how photography has still been playing an important role in my life this summer. Hopefully you'll get something out of it, and to keep things interesting, I'll have some photos that I've taken over the summer at a local park scattered throughout.

 
 

As much as I often wish it could be, photography is not my full-time job. That might change one day, but for now, my primary position is an engineer. For around a year, I had been working as an electrical engineer. When I started working last summer, I thought that I was basically starting my dream job. I was working at a company whose products I had used for years, where I had already completed three stellar internships, in a city that I had come to love. Getting an electrical engineering position here was also a very difficult task, and I also landed in one of the most coveted departments within the company. Things had seemingly come together perfectly!

 
 

The first few months of the job were difficult, as I imagine just about every job is for a recent college graduate. I figured that, given some more time, I would start to get the hang of things and feel better about the job. However, things sadly didn't get better for me. Sure, I started getting a better grasp of how to do most aspects of my job, but I just wasn't feeling good about it. I found that very little of my college coursework corresponded to the work of an actual electrical engineer. Not only that, but the full-time responsibilities were very different from the impression that I got an intern two years earlier. I had a great team, an understanding manager, and a very helpful mentor, but the position just didn't quite fit for me. Despite becoming more technically competent at my job, I was leaving work unhappy almost every day, and feeling completely drained by the time I got home.

With so much of my day leaving me in a negative mood, it was easy for me to let other, smaller things in my personal life pile up too. I was frankly feeling like a failure, which only left me more exhausted and less motivated to make things better. It was a vicious cycle that was leaving me borderline depressed.

 
 

So where does photography fit into all of this? Well, just about the only thing I could do to clear my mind was photography, specifically taking photos at a local park, Lake Lenexa. I discovered the park on a whim one evening a few months ago, and was blown away by one particular corner of the lake with a series of boardwalks that is always teeming with wildlife.

 
 

Since discovering the park, I began visiting Lake Lenexa several times per week. At first, I was just focused on photographing the giant bullfrogs that littered the shore. After getting more frog photos than I knew what to do with, I started focusing on turtles that would sunbathe on old fallen trees. As the weeks progressed, baby birds began to hatch, and there were small heads poking out of holes in trees. Ducklings would follow their mom through a maze of lily pads and fallen branches. Over the course of more visits, I started learning the patterns of some specific animals. I found a particular red-headed woodpecker with one eye who liked to perch on an old tree trunk near the boardwalk. Occasionally, I glanced some sort of mammal swimming in the shallow water. I now see the critter, a pretty large muskrat, quite regularly. A few weeks after that, I started seeing some bigger animals, and realized that they were a beaver family! Twice now, I've also seen a raccoon on the far shore. Recently, I've had fun trying to get good shots of some green herons that like to hunt for small fish.

Photographing the wildlife in this park, no more than ten minutes from my house, sort of became my therapy. I was driven to visit as often as possible, because each night, I might find some new animal to photograph! Rather than lay on the couch and watch a show on Netflix for the fourth time, I would head out to the lake shore and quietly watch for subtle movements that gave away an animals position. I had to be patient to allow them to move out from behind obstacles, or into better light. I didn't always get great photos, but I had something to strive for that excited me, and not much else in my life at the time could do that. And beyond that, who doesn't get excited when they see a whole family of beavers in the wild? That's just cool!

 
 

So basically, this story is to say that during a tough time, photography really helped me through. I know that many people might be going through similar times of turmoil, and I hope that my story can give you a little bit of hope that you can find something to get you excited again, even if it is only for an hour a few times a week. (In addition to that, I also wanted to share some of the many photos that I've taken out at Lake Lenexa!)

Finally, I'm happy to report that I just started a new position within my company that I think will be a much better fit for my skills and interests, and the hope of things improving has really done a lot to help energize me in other aspects of my life as well. Now that I don't have to spend as much time worrying about work and preparing for interviews, I'm able to dedicate more time to photography again, and more specifically catch up on editing and sharing photos! So with that said, definitely expect more photos in the coming weeks!