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@kristcx was chosen as our Featured Artists for the them {Joy}. I spoke with Kristen before I went traveling out of the country but this is the first time I have been able to sit down and write since I got back. I took some time to get to know a bit more about Kristen and so can you.

I had to include a family portrait. I love to stop and take in the view on most of our adventures. I think it is so good to remind my kids to just be present. Take in the beauty around them and be in the moment because life moves fast and you never know what is around the corner. So be here, in today, no matter how hard it feels some days. I often will set up my camera on a rock or tree stump, whatever I can find to sit my camera down somewhat level and safely. Set a 10-second timer and snag these moments. Then I join in on being present. Leaving my camera as is and just sit for a moment. 

Tell us a bit about yourself? And, are you a hobbyist or a pro?

I am Kristen Ryan or Kristcx on IG. I am a hobbyist photographer from Oklahoma. I have been working my way through my 365 projects for the last 8 almost 9 years now. I have absolutely loved what this project has taught me both in photography and really about life in general. So it has made me want to keep pushing through year after year, as challenging as it is because I appreciate the process and lessons. I love being able to capture my little family and our adventures together. 

My self-portrait project is probably my most intimate project. Something I don’t often like to take in front of others. I retreat back to my room usually, shut the door and just fall into myself. I tend to be very empathic and my feelings on life are often overtaken by those that are around me. So I need some time to unwrap my own feelings, this project has helped me in so many ways to do just that. It has helped me find me again and in a new way. I have been working on this self-portrait project for the last 5 years or so and it has been quite an interesting process. In a good way. 🙂

What inspired you to pick up your camera initially?

I have always had a love for photography for as long as I can remember. As a kid, my walls were filled with photos of friends and family from all my disposable cameras. In high school and college, I took photography courses for fun and then really fell hard into learning more about it once I had a baby. I found I needed to find something for me, motherhood can be overwhelming sometimes and it is very selfless, which honestly can be a lot sometimes. So I needed something, mentally, for me to focus on and have full control over all my own. I never realized what exactly could have come out of this process, the person it made me become, the ability to let go of the little things and just be present in life. I am so very thankful for this journey and hobby

Childhood, my 365 project has been a documentation of my children’s childhood since they were tiny babies. I am so thankful for this journal I have collected over the years. There were times that life was so overwhelming I don’t have much memory from them, but I have these photos to look back and remind me what life what like. It has made me a better mother too, showing me just how short these stages are. When I feel overwhelmed and frustrated, I just look back at those times that felt so slow and never-ending and see that we are long past those days that never felt like they would end. In a new stage with new challenges to meet. Life is so precious and it passes by faster than I can keep up. These photos help me slow down and remind me to take in each moment, the good, the bad, the ugly, the amazing. This is what life is about. It’s a rollercoaster. 

How do you improve your technique?

My 365 has 100% been the main factor in improving my technique. It has pushed me in so many ways. It has taught me to be open to exploring and experimenting. Not everything has to work out, not everything sticks with you. But you lose that fear of failure which is something a lot of people get stuck on. I don’t share all the photos I take with my 365, which for me takes off any pressure I feel for them to be something good. I can play and try things, things that I build on over time. I can take something one day and come back a week later with a new perspective to try because the first one didn’t work. I know I have 365 days to fill and instead of seeing it as a burden of something I have to fill, instead, I see it as time I can play and experiment. Explore this stage of life I am in fully and soak in each day, as good or bad as it may be. I am here, today is what I am in and how can I remember this day? What is a fun way to capture my every day when it all feels so mundane? My life is boring really, I am a creature of habit for the most part, but it has taught me to look at every perspective, and play with new camera techniques. Exploring editing techniques, or some days it makes me take a different way home from a familiar destination just to see what I can find. 

The little moments, in this photo we were driving home 10 hours in the car heading into hour number 7 we were all a little weary and tired of being cooped up. When the sun started to set, the sky turned a beautiful hue of orange, pink, and purple. We rolled down our windows, blasted the music, and played in the wind. It was one of those moments that reminded me to enjoy the little things. There is beauty in everything we do if we are just looking for it. As I listened to my kids’ laughter, my husband singing away, and felt the warm breeze on my face from the wind I was thankful for that moment. The time we had together, the joy we were able to find at that moment, and the day we had. 

Secret weapon. Or piece of advice that’s helped you?

I know I already said this but it is my biggest piece of advice, don’t be afraid of failure. Once you can take that away from your mind, the possibilities are endless. There is nothing really holding you down. You know if it doesn’t work out, it was a lesson you can build on and move forward from. Everything can be built upon. We grow from trying, sometimes we lose interest and move on to something else, and sometimes it took us making a wrong turn to get us down the path we were meant to be on. By just being open to trying new things and exploring the space you are in today you can grow leaps and bounds. If you fail, well try again with a new perspective, look down a different path, and see what’s ahead. 

Probably the most unflattering self-portrait I’ve ever taken! Ha! But I wanted to include it because of the challenge it was to make. I enjoy seeing something inspiring and wondering if I can make it. By being open to each day I am able to find inspiration everywhere and by not being afraid of failing I put my efforts into trying something I never would have bothered before. This was a fun process I tried about a year ago with a glass of wine and it has since become a fun series I’ve been playing with all sorts of everyday things. 

Why photographs? Why not painting? Or poems? Or, for that matter, statutes or taxes?

Once I dove back into photography and used it as a craft to find myself and voice outside of being a wife and mother, it hit in a way I had never experienced before. It helped me be me without the need to find the words to explain that to anyone. I could feel all my big feelings and express them through photos. My photos all have a deeper meaning for me. It became a personal journal, one for myself, but then secondly for my family. I am able to share the joy, the darkness, and the love I have for each stage of life. Something I can share with them many years from now and maybe even with those family members I’ll never meet in my lifetime. These photos are my legacy. They won’t bring me any notoriety, or recognition but that’s not the point with my photos. This work is deeper than that for me, it is my way to express myself in a way that I have never been able to find a way to do so before photography. It has given me a voice when I’ve never truly felt heard before. It is my way to stand out from the crowd, without drawing attention to myself, as any introvert prefers 😆.  It is my way to feel seen and at the same time share the love I have for my life and family. 

This was a favorite photo I recently took of my son and his fascination with all creatures he comes across. What I love most about this photo is that it came out of just taking a moment to search for some beauty that day. It was evening the sun was setting and I hadn’t taken anything for my 365. I asked my son to join me in the backyard to look for a picture for the day. Lucky for me they know this is an everyday thing for me. So he joined me and in the process found a snail in the garden. I sat it on a piece of glass I was holding and he was studying it closely as it tried to crawl itself away from us. I loved the way the light was shining on them so I grabbed my camera while this was happening and just happened to catch this moment where it looked like they were communicating with one another. These magical moments are my absolute favorite to capture. The ones that come out of just any ordinary moment. The ones that if you weren’t paying attention you wouldn’t have looked twice at, but if you are paying attention you see something magical happening. That to me is why I can’t stop my 365 just yet. There is beauty in the everyday little moments and if you aren’t purposefully looking for it, it just goes by you unnoticed. I want to keep looking for it, I want to find appreciation for the little things. It gives life a little bit different meaning some days and I love that. 

I love each and everyone of these images and I love the advice that Kristen has shared. And I agree that last image is a magical moment. Thank you Kristen for sharing your story. Look out for Kristen’s work on Instagram at @kristcx.

We look forward to seeing your images on our Facebook page and our Instagram Page.  The theme this month is {Travel} so tag us with #sharesix_travel for a few more days. The theme will change on September 6, 2022.