Finding Claire(ity)

I normally hate talking about myself but I’m on a path of self-love and acceptance, so I suppose writing about myself in a positive light is a step forward in the right direction. 

Instagram @claire.marie.photo

Typically when one reads about someone’s journey to discovering their love for photography, you see a small child being gifted a camera by one of the grandparents who lived in the countryside, where the scenery and the love for the family just really inspired them to pursue their passion for photography.

This is not that story. But truthfully, I don’t think every story has to be packaged with a pretty bow on top: it just has to be real.

Instagram @claire.marie.photo

While my interest in photography did start at a young age, it wasn’t that whole, “I held a camera for the first time and I knew this was my passion” moment.

I grew up in the time of disposable cameras and, for those lucky enough, reusable film cameras. Growing up my mom, like I’m sure most moms in the 90’s, was the one always trying to capture every moment of her children’s life. Whether that be a fun family vacation at the beach or simply playing outside with the dogs, she was always there following us around with a camera.

Seeing her in action definitely inspired me to pick up the disposable cameras and capture moments; granted my moments were less significant than hers.

Instagram @claire.marie.photo

I took the same energy for photography when I was given my first Polaroid camera; the old school ones that were bulky and printed out square photos. I almost understood the concept that Polaroid film was more expensive to buy, but that didn’t stop me from taking a picture of every cat we owned – and trust me, this was a lot of photos as we had a ton of cats at the time.

When that camera finally ran out, it seemed like my interest ran out too. My mom never gifted me a fancy expensive camera since I accidentally dropped her old film camera in the toilet (don’t ask).

So my passion, along with her fancy camera, went down the toilet. 

Instagram @claire.marie.photo

Fast forward a few years to 2014, the summer before sophomore year of college, fatefully my passion was reignited thanks to a former friend and her camera. This friend of mine was always taking photos and coming up with interesting concepts for photo shoots and I wanted to do that!

In an artistic sense, photography was one of the only ways I could express myself. I can’t draw, paint, or write very well, but capturing moments in time and editing them to fit the picture inside my mind seemed like second nature to me.

Instagram @claire.marie.photo

Although it wasn’t until the following summer when I had finally saved enough money to buy my own professional camera.

And, believe it or not, that’s the very same camera I still use today!

It can paint a picture of every self portrait, all the amazing friends that have allowed me to take photos of them, all the animals that have been my practice models and all my European adventures – which includes breaking my lens in Barcelona and hiding my camera on the plane ride to the French Riviera because I couldn’t fit everything into one bag.

Instagram @claire.marie.photo

Every time I hold that camera up, it’s been like an escape for me, a way to push myself to go outside my comfort zone. And let me tell you, outside of the comfort zone can be a beautiful place; it’s helped me create amazing pieces of myself, my friends, and the landscapes around me.

So, you see, young Claire had an air of simplicity about her, if she wanted to take a picture of something she did. Whether that be a polaroid of her foot or a plate of fries – not lying, I really did take pictures starring plates of fries lol – young Claire was just reflexively taking pictures of whatever caught her eye. I’d like to think that I still have that simplicity now as an adult.

Photography doesn’t need to be overly complicated as a lot of people make it out to be, myself included. Sometimes the best photos are the ones that you take on a whim or by accident. I’ve found that sometimes all you gotta do is just take the picture. So while this isn’t the perfect little story about a girl who grew up with a camera permanently in her hands, it is about a girl who learned that the simplicity in the art of photography is the most beautiful story.

. . .

I Made a Vision Board for 2021: Part Two

As promised, here is part two of making vision boards for 2021. If you haven’t read part one already, go ahead and check it out now!

I Made a Vision Board for 2021 and Here’s How it Went: Part One


What is included in a vision board?

It can be anything you want. There are a few different ways to go about building a vision board, so truly there is no wrong answer. I made two – one for general ideation and one for specific goals. For the second board, focused around goals, I kept it simple. I added twelve goals to achieve throughout the year as well as imagery to help manifest that.

How does it work?

Vision boards serve as a physical reminder for what you’re wanting to achieve. Seeing it everyday will help keep your goals or ideas at the forefront of your mind as you progress through the weeks and months. It can help to motivate you in a passive way. Rather than an obnoxious alarm on your phone or a calendar reminder, you can be met with a peaceful, self-created image that hangs on your wall as a friendly notice.


Here’s my vision board, broken into two segments: imagery and goals.

Left – Imagery 

Since this board is dedicated to goals, I didn’t want to overcomplicate or clutter it. I cut images from magazines that showcased what I wanted to emulate to help achieve these goals – a watch for time, candles and coffee for relaxation and focus, the galaxy as a corny way to ‘reach for the stars’, an upside down drop to symbolize change and a quote. More than anything I wanted the imagery to exude calmness and growth.

Right – Goals

Writing out goals was the hardest part of this board. Even though I am someone who is hyper-aware and anxious constantly, I am not someone that has a life plan. I tried to focus on things that were not so far out of reach, but could be tangible with a little hard work. I used the categories of play, health, work and joy to establish my goals; these are based off of the teachings in Designing Your Life. By grouping these items you’re more easily able to see areas in your life that may need extra attention. 

Ask Yourself

I see you.

I see you struggling with bills, having to work in a team hellbent on one upping each other, and I also hear you deferring blame for your current situation.

But sometimes the hardest, most necessary, thing to do is to take responsibility for your present.

You’re having a hard time with bills, well ask yourself: what are some things you can do to lessen your financial strain?

You’re frustrated with your work environment, well ask yourself: what can you do to adjust the environment to be more flourishing for you?

If you’re unhappy with the present, don’t just accept it for what it is and continue to stew in your dissatisfaction, blaming others for your current state. Take control, figure out what it is you need to be happy and thrive.

I don’t mean in a broad sense either, take baby steps, find little things that will slowly ease you out of your situation. Here are some steps you can take to change your present.

Identify The Problem.

You’re having a hard time financially. Ask yourself:

  • Where is my money going?
  • I don’t want to adjust my lifestyle, is it possible to get a second job? -> If you feel you are above getting a second job… but want to keep your frivolous lifestyle and struggle financially… we just found your problem dude.

You’re unhappy with your work environment. Ask yourself:

  • What can the team be doing differently that would help me thrive?
    • More communication? -> suggest daily check in calls or go the extra mile and directly tell your supervisor you feel out of the loop.
  • Is it the environment or the actual work that’s the problem? Would I be happy doing the same thing but with different people? Or do I hate my current routine? -> Depending on how you answer these is the difference between career change or a company change.

Take Action.

Ok, you’ve identified the problem – now actively do something about it.

It’s not enough to just say “Ope, yeah that’s the problem. Glad I can give the cat a name.” No, no, no.

If finances are a problem and you don’t want to downsize your lifestyle and quit living above your means, it’s time to buck up buttercup. There is nothing wrong with working more than one job. There is a massive misconception in thinking part time jobs are either food or retail, but how about working at a wine boutique? Babysitting? Photography? Dog walker? Tutor? House sitter? There are options! Fun options, at that.

If you’ve realized you’re unhappy with the your work environment – and you feel it’s nothing that can be solved with a good kumbaya moment with colleagues… maybe it’s time for a company change. Nothing wrong with that, people evolve and grow and that’s just life. But if you see yourself changing companies and still being dissatisfied with your life… it’s time to bounce careers, to try something new. If you don’t know where to start in a career change, just ask yourself what activities make you truly happy and explore that. If you’re keen on succulents, google “jobs working with succulents” or literally anything that brings you happiness: google that word + job.

SO

Hope you didn’t think I had more than those two steps, because I don’t. That’s really all you truly have to do to fix your present situation: identify the problem + take action.

It sounds simple, but I recognize the complexity of these two things and I also recognize the potential big steps – and existential crises – these can lead to. But this is what’s necessary to adjust your present to make way for a happier future.

Not to make this a religious post or anything, but the Serenity Prayer always comes to mind when I’m faced with difficult situations and looking for guidance on how to move forward:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.