Category Archives: Photo Walks

Cultivating a Sense of Place through the Lens

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Finding a sense of place where I live is pivotal for me. I build a relationship with the pockets of nature I find in the city, the way the light falls, the way we as humans interact and nurture these spaces.

What about you? Does having a sense of place and engaging with the world around us play a part in your daily life too? Does the lens play a part in that? I know I’ve always been really engaged with the world around me visually but I do think that the lens deepens that and allows us too make it into a mindful practice, one that can deepen with time.

To me it’s always been as simple as slowing down and letting myself and the lens engage with the world in an inquisitive way.

It’s not about getting perfect photos (sometimes I don’t actually come back with any photos, it becomes more about just BEING). But the lens has a way of helping us give ourselves permission to slow down and take this time. To helping us open up our eyes. 

If you’ve seen my photos on Instagram or in my classes over the years, you’ve probably become familiar with some of the places that I take my selfies. They feel like characters in my visual story. They feel like companions on this healing path. Because they are.

The act of taking any selfie you’ve seen me share is rooted in cultivating and celebrating a relationship to place. And constantly letting it evolve. I love going on photo walks and discovering how the same place I’ve been going on photo walks for years can look anew, the way it can change.

I’ve been living in East Vancouver for the past 6 years and fell head over heels for that place. The community gardens I’d visit weekly. The way the light falls on the sidewalk by my house there. The gorgeous flowers that bloom each season. And, in the beautiful way that life takes turns, I also fell in love with someone who doesn’t live in this city. So, life is taking me to a new landscape (well, newish…I lived here over a decade ago) to the city of Victoria on Vancouver Island. Now, do know that I will be in Vancouver often for some photography work and I’m still most definitely booking photo sessions in Vancouver as well as Victoria. I’m considering myself a dual city-gal work (and friendship) wise!

But outside of work, is the daily photo & self-compassion practice that this is all rooted in. The act of going for these photo walks. And while I’ll miss the visuals, the smells, the light, the plants, the neighbourhood characters of my old neighbourhood and city, I’m excited to start that process of discovery anew.

I’m grateful to have landed in Victoria in a lovely loft home with my sweetheart mere minutes from the waters edge and a really lovely trail along the water, called the Songhees Walkway (as this part of Vancouver Island is traditional Songhees Nation Territory). Like the community garden in my old neighbourhood, the path is the place that’s drawing me in. Inviting me in with the rocky beaches, the morning light, the interactions with birds and otters, the intersection of human life and nature, the arbutus trees leaning over the path, the city perspectives in the background and the openness of the sky.

New characters in a new chapter of this continued, ever-evolving visual story.

Do you relate to this relationship to place? How does the camera play a part in finding your sense of home too? Who are the non-human characters in your visual story?

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  • Renée LayberryNovember 6, 2017 - 9:49 am

    Your words and images resonate so deeply with me on many levels. Welcome to Victoria, and thank you for sharing your passion in this way! <3ReplyCancel

Selfie Self-Care for the Grey Days

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I looked at the forecast for the next couple weeks this morning and it can be described in one four letter word: rain.

I live in Vancouver, Canada so really it’s not surprise. I’ve lived here for a decade now so I’ve learned what I need to best thrive in a rainy winter. I’ve learned that for me, a pivotal part of getting through the winter here without getting the blues is to not put my camera away. Even if it rains. Even if it’s grey and nothing is blooming anymore. Even then. Especially then.

You see, this whole self-portrait path the whole Be Your Own Beloved process began for me as I was coming out of a depression years ago. I needed to learn how to fill my own well again and thanks to digital photography and our phones starting to have cameras around that time, I started going on a walk around the neighbourhood with a camera and seeing what beauty I could find.

These photo walks not only lead me through that time in a way that helped me learn to fill up my own well again, but it has ever since. It wasn’t something that I did just then to find happiness again. It’s something I do weekly ever since (if not more) to keep my well filled.

This weekend I could feel the lows tapping me on the shoulder so this morning I grabbed my camera as I headed out to a cafe to get some work done and took the long way that led me through the community garden. I go to this same one all the time but what I’ve learned over the years is that even though I couldn’t imagine there would be anything new, anything different than the other day when I was there…there is always beauty of some sort awaiting me.

This time it was a flower that had fallen on the ground that caught my eye and became my muse for the next 10 minutes.

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After taking a few dozen photos I left it there in hopes someone else coming to the garden for self-care would see it and feel it’s beauty.

On the walk I was also thinking of how grateful I am that Be Your Own Beloved is starting next week. I like to offer it in November even though it might not be the sunniest month for most of us (unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere of course) but its because its not the sunniest month that it becomes more important than ever to offer ourselves this kind of self-care. 

Cause the class and these photo walks really isn’t just about ‘getting the shot’, or only taking selfies when it’s gorgeously happy and we’re feeling good and rockin’ a fabulous outfit. Sure, it’s a lot easier to be kind to ourselves, to be our own beloved when those things are in place. But we’re worthy of that kind of love all the time. 

It’s actually more about building our resilience in showing up for ourselves when we’re not feeling that way. That’s not to say we won’t get kick-ass photos (cause oh my gosh we will) but no matter what the season, this process is really less about the photo and so much more about the ways we show up for ourselves despite what our inner critic says, despite the old stories we see in our photos and yes, despite the rain or weather.

So rain or shine, I’m excited to dig into these prompts with the class this coming month and celebrate all the incredible photos you’ll take and the vulnerability and bravery that we step into in the process.

Come join us!

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  • LeónOctober 31, 2015 - 7:39 am

    I adored that first photo when I saw it on Facebook. I love the theme of the pink flower in all these shots. It’s a lovely counterpoint to the grey day. The final photo is wonderful…it’s the simple serenity that really appeals to me.ReplyCancel

  • Jenny GoodNovember 22, 2015 - 12:17 am

    Vivienne, I find your work so powerful. I wanted to take a moment to let you know that what you’re doing is needed in the world. I realize you likely already know that, but sometimes we need to hear it from others. As a woman who has a stomach hernia and has worn every dress size between 2 and 28, I’ve struggled with body image. I’ve found that at times I see a picture of myself and I like it more until I realize it’s a picture of me (pictures taken by others). But in reading your work and thinking more on that, I am starting to soften to the idea that maybe I look more okay than I think I look. Maybe the approval I feel for the woman in the picture before I realize it’s me, should remain after I see that it is indeed me. It’s caused me to look more deeply into why I am fast to approve of someone else my size while being more sad when it is me. These are important realizations. Thanks for showing up and turning your pain into balm for others.ReplyCancel

My Photo Buddy

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Over the holidays, most of my family gathered together in Portland. We have our routines when visiting there which include lots and lots of walks. When I had been there for my Nephew’s Birthday, he had received a cool kids camera from a good friend (its a VTech Kidizoom Camera).

So when we arrived for Christmas, I asked if he wanted to try it out and he was mighty excited. I was amazed how quickly he understood and could maneuver around the camera, capturing and checking out the photos. It was soon coming along on all our adventures.

I’m sure I was glowing every time the camera came with us. He knows I love taking photos so it was great to be able to talk to him about something I’m so passionate about.  A super sweet moment happened when he, unprompted, aimed his camera at his feet and took a foot selfie on purpose. I’ve made him get in enough foot photos of the two of us that I’m sure that just felt natural to him!

I so hope that it ends up being something we do together on our visits!

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As well, just as we were about to leave to head back up to Vancouver, I remembered that while I had taken lot of selfies with him, I hadn’t had a photo of the two of us taken though I had made sure to take a photo (or photos) with him and each family member.  Remember…sometimes we’ve got to pass the camera to other people! So glad I did cause now it’s my new favourite photo of the two of us!

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  • Donna LangeJanuary 9, 2015 - 5:14 am

    What a sweet connection, it is very special! I have a special connection to my granddaughter, we just seem to be mad about each other from the first moment!ReplyCancel

  • EveJanuary 9, 2015 - 12:05 pm

    My aunts were such an important part of my life growing up. And still are!

    It makes me so happy to see you filling that role so awesomely.ReplyCancel

  • CharisJanuary 18, 2015 - 11:36 am

    Looks like you guys had fun, isn’t he a cutie?!ReplyCancel

  • Jenna/The Word CellarJanuary 18, 2015 - 8:58 pm

    If you weren’t my friend, I’d totally want you to be my auntie. You rock. And so does that nephew of yours.ReplyCancel

Bay Area Adventures

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Earlier this month I was out in the SF Bay Area (aka one of my favourite places ever).  After doing the Photo Walk in Portland earlier this year, I thought it might be fun to put out an invite to come join me in one of my favourite places in San Francisco, the Mission. It’s so full of gorgeous murals, colour and gorgeous light and I thought it might be fun adventure for Bay Area folks to feel the permission to get touristy in their own city and take selfies!

It was SO awesome to get to meet and reconnect with all the lovely ladies there and I led the group through a few Be Your Own Beloved selfie activities.  It truly made for the perfect end to a really nourishing weekend.

Here are a few snaps of our photo adventuring (and the selfies I ended up taking during the walk)!

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Nextbyobeloved

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  • CharisNovember 9, 2014 - 10:14 am

    I’ve always wanted to visit San Fran… now even more so! It looks like such an amazing city!ReplyCancel

Reclaiming our Power in Front of the Camera

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Their camera is aimed at me.

Be it a total stranger, a family member or a portrait photograher, the same thing happens for me.  I feel awkward and outside of my skin.  I feel like I need to pose.  So I stay as still as I can and wait for it to be over.

 

But when my camera is aimed at myself it is different.

I set it down and while I push the timer button or get ready to press my remote, I take a second to do a little silly dance to shake out the nerves. I adjust my clothing and then move in a way that feels like me.  I press the button and settle into the experience.  I may close my eyes and move or look right into the camera.

I am in my own body, not outside of myself.

I am in control, not out of control.

I am the narrator, not just the subject.

I am embodied, at home and enjoying the experience.

And the photo shows it.

 

So does the one that someone else has taken.  I can see my stress, thoughts of ‘What are they going to do with this photo’ and I didn’t take a moment at all to check in with my body and I can see it in my body language. Sound familiar?

I know this isn’t just my own experience.  Except I think it is easy to think that because it is so vulnerable to be in front of someone else’s camera, that aiming our own camera at ourselves would be even more scary. 

The more I’ve been using self-portraiture as tool for healing, the more I find that I can remember to take a second while they are getting ready to take the photo to just notice my feet on the ground and take a deep breath.   Often that is enough to change the experience of being photographed and put me at ease again.

The difference between the two does feel like it is about power. 

That somehow when someone else is holding the camera we hand our power over to them.

Yet that is the same reason why taking the camera into our own hands and taking a photo can be so empowering.  It is a reclamation of personal power.

I see it so often in Be Your Own Beloved when the participants get to that one activity which for them flips that switch and they realize they are indeed in control of how they see themselves. I can see that embodiment and reclamation of personal power start to appear in their photos.  They stand taller, they get braver and I start to see more of them appear in their photos, without apology.

Now, I do want to share that most portrait photographers I know…you can absolutely see in their photos that they put the client at ease, that they are deeply aware of this power and create a space where the client feels deeply safe.

I guess the thing I want to really share is that we can also create that experience for ourselves too. We can create that sacred space with our own camera too.

I want this for you, for me, for all of us.

Let’s transform the experience of being photographed from a place of fear or discomfort to a place of playfulness and openness, starting by doing this for ourselves!

We’re going to be exploring this in How to Rock a Selfie Photo Shoot starts soon, October 6th!  The next session of Be Your Own Beloved starts November 1st!  If you have any questions about which class would be the best fit for you, don’t hesitate to use the contact form and connect with me!

Nextbyobeloved

 

 

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