How we move through this world

I had lunch with a friend today. When you’re self-employed and work from home like I do it’s always a treat to meet a friend for lunch somewhere lovely: today it was Jamie’s Italian in Bath. When our starters arrived I whipped out my iPhone, stood up and took a few shots of the bruschetta slathered in olive oil and crushed borlotti beans—luckily Hanne knew not to start eating until I’d got my shot. The same thing happened when our pasta arrived, and our coffees too. It’s not often I get to eat in restaurants so taking photos to record the occasion makes sense. But I also do this when I’m at home. And when I’m in the supermarket. And when I’m eating breakfast with my 18 month-old nephew. I take photos of the fallen leaves at my feet and broken doorways and daisy circles. I take photographs to anchor myself more firmly in the moment and use my cameras to capture the potential photos I see everywhere I look. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing—for as long as I am able to take a breath and lift my camera to my eye, I will be creating images with pixels and film. Do you have this urge too?

My constant—some would argue obsessive—picture taking is simply the way I move through the world. Photography is like a form of meditation for me and when life is feeling harder than usual I take myself outside and look at the world through my lens. There’s always a new way to see things—it’s uncanny, really. When I was grieving the untimely death of my partner it was my camera that helped me reconnect with myself and my world, and it’s the reason why I know that creativity is the fastest way to access our truest selves.

Next month I’m leading a brand new e-course sharing everything I know about photography. Photo Meditations: Infusing Your Images with Soul is a five-week exploration of the inspirational and the practical for anyone who wishes to sink deeper into their own photographic journey. We’ll be diving into compositional theory, self-portraiture, shooting for your blog, story-telling and so much more. I should probably mention right now that I’m not a very technical sort of photographer—I’m going to be sharing some important basics in the first week, but I’m not concerned with histograms and what have you. What excites me, and what I hope to pass on to my students, is a passion for creating pictures that tell stories. That move the viewer. That convey what I feel. That hold layers of meaning. That delight the eye. That’s what we’ll be exploring in Photo Meditations. 

Would you like to join me? 

Please leave a comment here between now and Friday (midnight EST) for a chance to win a complementary registration for Photo Meditations!

Images and words by Susannah Conway; photographer, writer and the creator of the Unravelling e-courses. A Polaroid addict and very proud aunt, her first book, This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart (Globe Pequot Press), launches in June 2012. You can read about her shenanigans at Registration for her new class, Photo Meditations, opens this Saturday, October 15th.

**Congratulations to Julie Fairchild for winning a spot in Susannah’s class! Thanks to all for commenting.


  1. says

    i would love the opportunity to do one of your ecourses. combining photography, story telling and soul searching … what a journey that will be!

  2. says

    My relationship with my camera, I'm sorry to say, has become a little sporadic. But a couple of days ago I shared a couple of photos I'd taken on FaceBook & Flickr, and received such lovely comments on them. It made me realize how much I take my photography for granted – how I don't appreciate it with the depth that it deserves.

    So I just love the idea of photo meditations – a chance to develop a deeper relationship to me camera and, through that, the world. Gorgeous!

  3. says

    I've had your class bookmarked since you first announced it! I can't wait to take it, one way or another, and it's going to be a birthday present to myself. I'm just starting my photography journey, but I love holding my camera and capturing the life around me. The thing I'm most excited about is learning how to tell stories with my photographs. I'm not particularly interested in the technical side of it (or, I am, sort of, in that I want to know how to operate my camera) as much as I am the emotional side. Can't wait for class to start!

  4. says

    Lovely photo and I totally get where you're coming from. Sometimes I worry that I'm missing life because I'm so consumed with capturing it, but I can't seem to put away my camera.

    Your class sounds wonderful, I'd love the opportunity.

  5. Pam says

    This is a wonderful opportunity. I know every person commenting here, hopes they are chosen. And while we all want to win, It is an exciting feeling to wait for the name to be announced, and that is also good for the soul.

  6. says

    I've been following some blogs recently that incorporate story telling in their images and I find myself moved by those types of posts. I tend to shoot what moves me but would love to incorporate more of the story telling aspect in my Photography.

  7. says

    I agree — photography is my meditation, my prayer, my centering, my way of seeing the world. It gives me hope and joy. Thanks for offering a wonderful opportunity to take the e-coourse — I'd love to join you!

  8. Heather says

    I am on a quest to capture and share my world the way I see it. I've been working on improving and following my instinct. I also want to use those photographs to tell a story. A photographic story teller. Being able to photograph a moment and wrap a story around it is the legacy I want to leave for my children. I would love to have a seat in this class.

  9. says

    thank you for this exquisite and generous offering. yes, it would be pure delight, deep pleasure and a profound honor to join you on the journey. abrazos y amor. xo

  10. says

    Photo Meditation. Wow, I've never thought of it like that. But, you're so right. That's exactly how I feel too.

    I'd love the opportunity to participate in this e-course. It sounds like a lot of fun!

  11. darlene says

    This course sounds just right for me, i would love to win the opportunity to participate in your e-course.
    I am on a journey through Breast Cancer right now and have been documenting my journey with photos – photography is my passion and it soothes my soul.

  12. Lisa Robinson says

    I would really enjoy being part of this course. Combining inspiration with the practical sounds wonderful, and I'd like to explore this.

  13. says

    I would love this opportunity! It sounds amazing. I'm not particularly technical, being fairly new to photography and this would be a wonderful chance to learn more with like minded people.

  14. patricia says

    I also feel that my camera is a tool for meditation. What a great idea for a class—–I would love to learn more about it.

  15. marina says

    this is such a beautiful post and the photo with your shadow does feel like an image coming from a moment of presence. your words are so inspiring and your new e-course seems awesome! I would love to participate in it, thank you for this chance!!!

  16. says

    In my post-retirement life, watching pennies is part of the deal. I lust after taking your class but had decided that the penny-watching had to take precedence. So I will throw my hat in the ring and hope against hope, that my number comes up for the complimentary registration spot.

  17. MaryK says

    I could really use this course I think. I'm in a search for myself after a great loss and photography has always been a passion and one I want back in my life.

  18. Kristen says

    struggling to work through loss i found you and began to peel back the layers and heal. i'm excited about this new ecourse you're offering and hope to particpate! not everyone feels a connection to an instructor, things don't always resonate. with you, everything resonates and i find myself saying "yes! yes." as each lesson comes. you are amazing. and this is just going to be one more of your brilliant, amazing ideas come to fruition.

  19. says

    What a beautiful post, Susannah. I share your desire to document the ins and outs of daily life and find true happiness in doing so.

    Participating in your e-course would be a true delight. Thanks for this opportunity.

    Mary xo

  20. Cat<3 says

    Yes, it is a meditation. A way to capture the moment, and then be able to immerse yourself in the energy of that moment…drinking it in again later. I'm always fascinated by how an image – the lighting, the colours, the angle, the focus (or lack of) can evoke such a range of emotion, memories and feelings!
    Would love to be a part of this journey. Cat<3

  21. says

    Beautiful. This sounds like such a wonderful class. I've kept your classes in mind for quite some time, and I would be honored if I were able to win a spot in this one. Definitely lovely. :)

  22. Debra says

    "My constant—some would argue obsessive—picture taking is simply the way I move through the world. Photography is like a form of meditation for me …."

    Thank you for that quote. I've never thought of myself like that before. Beautifully put.

    I'd welcome the chance to participate in your class. Thanks.

  23. says

    My camera has been broken for over a month now. Being without it has made me realize just how therapeutic photography has been for me. I'm planning on signing up for the class anyway, but a complementary registration would be just fine with me!

  24. Esmee says

    Susannah, I've been looking forward to this course since you first announced it! As my birthday is the 17th, it will be a nice present to myself. Storytelling with pictures – sounds great! (plus I loved your unravelling course, so I know I'll be in good hands 😉

  25. Lorraine minogue says

    I would love to take this course. Our philosophy is the same but your images convey it. I would love to even pay for the class but finances at this time won't allow.
    Choose me please.

  26. says

    I said it on Twitter and I'll say it here. Susannah + Shutter Sisters = double the awesome! Around the time I did Unravelling I remember reading that Susannah is always composing photos as she moves through her day. Now, one year later I know exactly how that feels – and I can tell you that it feels fantastic. You'll see me in the course whether I win or not.

  27. Leah says

    This is my first time to your page and i feel immediately connected to you and your views of photography. I absolutely love the way you describe your views of photography. I can completely relate to your style of photography. My camera has always been my escape and passion in life. I love capturing each single moment of everyday. Taking pictures fulfills me and allows me to express my feelings. I am a struggling college student right now trying to start my dream of my own photography business. I would love this opportunity to be a part of your course and learn from you and your amazing style of photography. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  28. Julie says

    This sounds like just what I am looking for. I've just begun taking photos. As I am trying to learn i find myself bored with some photos. I want to find the heart of it but don't know where to begin.

  29. says

    Yours words about using photographs to anchor you to a moment rings so true for me. I'm constable snapping pictures (to the annoyance of my husband & many of my friends)…capturing precious moments & beauty of the everyday. I'm playing with the thought of taking classes & possibly taking my love of photography seriously. This class would be the amazing push I need to do something about it.

  30. Erika (gashuttergirl) says

    I would love to join you in this course.

    Just checked out your book cover – it is beautiful! Congratulations.

  31. Dawnica says

    I love the way you think!!! I want to be able to shoot with my camera and have fun. I am a beginner and I think I am getting too caught up with all the technical stuff I am making myself way more confused.
    I would love a chance to win a lesson! Thanks~

  32. says

    Susannah, I am a longtime admirer of your beautiful photographs, also eagerly awaiting the release of your book next year! I would LOVE a chance to join your class and explore how to make photography even MORE of a daily practice. :)

  33. Isabella Rose says

    I did the Unraveling class, and it was fabulous! Thank you so much for the chance to win a spot in this new class…I am not sure I will be able to afford it this time around and would LOVE to join! I definately use my camera as a theraputic tool. It forces me to slow down and focus on the little piece of my world that fits into my lens. Macro photography is the best therapy! In addition, as I grow in my photography I see so much beauty all around me that I know I would have missed otherwise. It makes me so much more aware of the moment. Right now I am dreaming of the day I can afford the iPhone…just for that awesome camera! I, too, see pictures everywhere….if only my phone had a better camera!

  34. Monica says

    This post touched my soul. My favorite evening walk is during the sweet hour of light. I come home happy, light, peaceful. Love exudes my every movement while I bask in that meditative energy. What an exciting event to have a 5 week course focusing on taking photographs with your heart and transforming your vision into a story. I'd love to take this journey.

  35. Io says

    I would love to do the Photo Meditations. I have never been much of a photographer. I've wanted to, but something held me back from doing more than the usual sightseeing type photos. But recently my eyes have started waking up, the fog is lifting! I'm exploring!

  36. LionSze says

    Shortly after my MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course back in Spring 2010, I attended a London Flickr meeting – the London Allnighter. The whole process is much like meditation – mindful observation throughout the night, through my camera.
    Can't wait to be on your course Susannah!

  37. Pam says

    Fresh air – that's what this sounds like! I'm pretty bogged down by technical stuff. Need to work the other half of my brain . . .

  38. says

    This course sounds fantastic and exactly what I'm looking for. I've been needing inspiration and a reinvigoration of my love for photography. Thank you so much for giving away a seat in the course.

  39. says

    it's so exciting to see how your life and inspiration just keep rippling out into the world! Congrats on all that you have achieved – amazing to see what happens when one listens to their heart and trusts its guidance.

  40. sewknittertats says

    My friend told me your classes are the best. But I don't have a fancy camera, and I'm so shy about taking pictures. I'd love to have a class for inspiration. I could never afford this class, but I would have such fun if I were able to. I'm taking your class in big picture classes coming up. Having a year long class would give me something special to share with family and friends and be proud of.

  41. julia says

    I come to Shutter Sisters when I need to remember what matters. This site gets me past all the baggage of life. And every once in awhile, I happen upon a posting that mends a hurt, feeds a thirst, or fuels a passion. It is, in fact, time to act on what has been #1 of my "to do" list since 2009. Pick up the camera: See, shoot, share and shine – be joy. I'm in:))

  42. Colleen says

    Oh Dear! I really goofed! I waited to see winner before signing up. Then POOF… Sold Out! I think that that is my new don't like word. I really hope you'll have another class.

  43. Kelly Lenihan says

    I, too, keep my camera with me at all times to record moments. To be able to better express those moments with more mindful photography sounds like just what I need – this course sounds amazing and I would love to participate in it. I see that I've missed the time frame to leave a comment to win a complimentary registration and that the class is sold out – I'm very sad.

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