The Power of Acknowledgement

When I was ten years old, I discovered the book Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. Harriet was a little girl about my age who wrote observations of life around her in great detail. Her practice intrigued me, so I took it up. My foray into journaling coincided with my discovery of swear words, so sadly, when my parents discovered my profanity-laced observations of playground life, they destroyed them.

Mom and Dad may have been able to destroy those pages, but they couldn’t keep me from writing new ones! Now that I think about it, my love of documenting every day life is closely linked to my love of photography. I never thought much of it, though, until the end of high school. And then it hit me in a really big way.

I think the prospect of facing death makes things a lot clearer for people. But in this case, it wasn’t my own mortality that brought clarity, it was my father’s. Toward the last few weeks of his life, he was bedridden, in pain, weak. He barely had the energy to speak. But one day, from the coils of his bed sheets, he suddenly declared to me, “Chu-Chi [my family nickname], don’t stop writing.”

These words coming from a parent who had barely acknowledged any non-academic activities. In one of his last statements to me was my father’s recognition and acceptance of me. I have come to treasure his acknowledgement, and I have built on it to create my blog Miss Cheesemonger and my photography business.

What does all this have to do with your photos? Plenty. Having the freedom to acknowledge your own strength, your own beauty, your own spirit makes you stronger. I deeply believe that is the power of having images you love. You can be the artist you are. You can be the human you are, in all your depth and complexity. And the world is waiting to see you.

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