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Two things happened in early November that really changed my mindset and approach to both photography and my business.  And while it might be too early to gauge success, sometimes your gut tells you to choose the path less traveled.  

A typical road sign in Bhutan.

A visit to the remote country of Bhutan where I chased the concept of happiness for four days and an immersion workshop in art business techniques coincided with a full moon and a little jet lag and, oila: inspiration. 

I’ve spent a lifetime capturing real places and people and life in 146 countries and only now, well into my fifth decade and well over the requisite 10,000 hours of practice, coming to experience the true artistry and expertise of my craft.  

But being challenged by both events has made me see the need to clarify my purpose.  Frankly, it’s never been about chasing money for me.  Might have been much easier if it was.  But no one tells artists to expect financial gain.  And I was truly distracted on and off by subsistence and influential naysayers.  Fortunately, those days are also behind me. 

So, the question posed in the workshop was “why?”   “Why do you HAVE to do what you do?   To create what you create?”   Now I had been slowly meandering down that road all on my own without prodding so I did have some thoughts.  Thanks for the nudge to make me put it down on paper and let the editing and tweaking of the message begin!

And that brings me to the challenge of capturing happiness in decidedly non-laughing Bhutan.  First, expectations are rarely met when not supported by diligent fact-based research.  (See next week’s blog on Gross National Happiness)

Second, once I turned my head around (and this was before the workshop prodding) I realized happiness is what I have been capturing for decades.  Maybe the Peanuts-slogan version expanded to contentment, routine, feeling safe, being in one’s own element. 

So, my new mindset is clarifying and guiding at the same time.  I’m looking forward to more directly telling stories of people and places, of capturing the context of their humanity that are the soul and culture of a destination. 

The New Mindset and Mission:   Society polarizes our behaviors and thoughts because we don’t understand each other risking literal and metaphorical conflict. As a world traveler, Sue has honed her creativity to capture everyday moments across different cultures, showing our human commonalities… our wants, our needs, our activities, and our hopes. Her mission is to bring us together in understanding and to celebrate our differences and shared humanity.  Sue uses photography and writing to showcase our vulnerability, strengths and similarities and lessen the divide.

Sharing images with young monks during a break in
their studies at the Nedo Monastery, Pharping, Nepal

Cultivating kindness and the optimism of knowing we are all the same is a way to bring us all together.    So, here’s to a New Year and a new Focus! 

We’d love to hear your thoughts on our new approach.   Join us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SueHendersonPhotography/