Declutter Your Creativity

When you feel fear, you are on the threshold of something great. When you step through fear, there is always love on the other side. - Shaa Wasmund

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How do you keep your creative brain decluttered when your life is madness? 

How do you stay on task and productive when you're constantly on the move? 

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These are all questions I have always struggled with, but with our recent move to Europe my creative brain has felt even more dismantled. In an interesting way, I have looked at it like a challenge to dig deeper into my creative purpose. Instead of continuing to run around in 50 directions, what would it look like to jog steadily in one? 

I think we all can agree we would eventually get where we wanted a little sooner if we stayed on course, but staying focused with full creative tanks requires effort. 

Here are a few new things I have been trying to keep my body and creative soul clear and on track:

  1. A Green Drink: I love Amazing Grass products. I now crave it and it totally fuels my mornings. If you're not in the habit of downing greens in the mornings - try it! It has changed my world.
  2. Do Less, Get More: My new read from Shaa Wasmund. I made it a new goal to read 5-10 mins in the morning to help me set an intention for the day. She has so many good snippets of inspiration and I write down the ones I can carry through my day. 
  3. One Girl Band: New podcast that fellow photographer, Anna Purna recommended and I love it so far! It is geared toward women entrepreneurs and so far I love the advice she gives on honesty and staying productive.
  4. Coffee Shop Life: I am always surprised how escaping the physical clutter helps clear my creative juices. 
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If you're interested in joining or following the journey of creative discovery/confusion feel free to subscribe below. 

-Tara 

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Narrowing Your Creative Path

There have been points along my creative path I wasn't sure where I was headed. Everything felt like a BIG unreachable dream and I wanted "all the things."

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Somewhere along that path of stumbles, I was unknowingly defining my passions more and more.

It was easy to see what others were doing and imagined myself there. I wanted to travel the world and I wanted my photos to be meaningful. I wanted them to “help” the world.

How crazy of a dream was that!?

At the beginning there were so many bridges to cross it felt overwhelming. I wondered if I had crossed the right one, or wasted so much time going in the wrong direction.

Now I look back and see how each bridge crossed was somehow leading me in the right direction. Even if a bridge felt like a detour, it brought a lesson, new knowledge, a fresh outlook and a story that is mine. 

MY POINT

It's hard when you want to quickly go from point A to point B - enjoy the path of stumbles. Perfecting your craft and narrowing down your niche takes time and continuous effort.

When it doesn't resonate with everyone...you have started to narrowing your creative niche and I believe that is an awesome path to be on!

-Tara 

Women for Women - Ghana

After a lot of endless hours, I am finally ready to share my photos and video for The By Grace Foundation in Ghana. 

The By Grace Foundation is a female founded 501(c)(3) that sponsors the training and education of women in impoverished communities. 

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The By Grace Foundation operates a vocational training facility in Tamale, Ghana. In Ghana, becoming a seamstress is a highly esteemed profession, but is only available to women with capital. By Grace sponsors the education fees and sewing machine so that underprivileged women have the opportunity to make an income. 

VIDEO: Tara Shupe

ANIMATION: Paige Dall

One thing I love about working with different non-profits like The By Grace Foundation, is sharing in the experience. From killing spiders with duck-tape and laughing over Africa moments, to watching the women open up. 

I have also had the honor of documenting The By Grace Foundation’s work in India and on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. 

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We had flown into Accra and from there took a small plane to Tamale, one of the larger cities in Northern Ghana. It was such a small plane I had to check my larger camera equipment bag and was informed it would arrive the following day. I had a bit of a panic attack, but the gear all arrived as promised. 

TAMALE - NORTHERN GHANA

We hit the ground running on day one and started meeting so many faces. The most important being, The By Grace women! 

My time in Tamale was focused on doing interviews with the women and hearing their powerful stories. Along with capturing the process behind the clutches the women are learning to create through The By Grace Foundation. 

GIRL IN MARKETS

Young girls are used in Ghana as head porters, also known as kayayoo. They will carry heavy loads for shoppers and traders on their heads, sometime very long distances in the hot sun. She is likely not in school and is working to help support her family or her baby. She will be vulnerable to sexual abuse and unplanned pregnancy.

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The By Grace Foundation is fighting these issues by teaching the women new skills they can use to generate an income!

Women working in the local market in Tamale. 

INTERVIEWS 

I brought large diffusion sheets and spent the morning figuring out how to soften the African sun. We had so many women to interview and it was going to take all afternoon. Which meant we needed to shoot during the brightest time of the day. 

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Pictured above is the women's main seamstress. She helps educate the women on how to sew. 

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Rafia, she was shy in her interview, but warmed up each time we saw her. She was giggling and laughing by our last day with her. 

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I focused the video on Rebecca, because I loved her favorite African proverb:

“Small, small things make an elephant.”

Translates: “Sometimes people place limitations on themselves, but no matter how small you start, you can get where you need to be.” - Rebecca

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"My name is Magdaline and I'm 14 years old. I want to learn to sew, so I can help my family."
-Magdaline, 14

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This was a young girl I asked to photograph.

This is reality for young girls trying to support their families. They will often end up not going to school and carrying heavy loads back and fourth to the market. 

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"Hi, my name is Azara and I do not know my age." - Azara, age unknown

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"If I can sew well, then I can support myself in the future." 

Favorite African Proverb: "If a town is far, there is another town further." 
Translation: "There is always something ahead of you, or somebody always knows more." 

Fatima, 17

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"When I am short money, I can use sewing." - Zilfa, 16

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Favorite African Proverb: "The dry branch will bud and surprise those who gather sticks." Translation: "Nobody expects a dry branch to bud when a tree is cut down and dry. So for a branch to bud is a surprise. I love that proverb because expectations of me are low, so I want to surprise people by exceeding their expectations."

- FEROUZA, 20

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Favorite African Proverb: "Small, small, catches the monkey's tail." 
Translation: "Little, by little, you can get where you want to be." 

AJUIMA, 25

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Another huge part of this trip was The By Grace Foundation’s new building for the women. An afternoon was spent celebrating and giving certificates to the women.  

SANDEMA

After our time in Tamale, we headed further North to Sandema. It was bringing back so many memories from my time in Malawi and the simplicity of village life.

Emily lived in Ghana for most of her childhood and getting to see her reunions was fun. I felt at home as we stayed in one of her old houses and got to settle in a bit.

One of my favorite nights was when we rode in the back of a pick up to one of her childhood friends home. We filled the small home with people and laugher as we ate the local dish, groundnut stew. 

I spent my evenings in Sandema walking around during the African harmaton glow, capturing village life.

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I joked I was bullied at the watering hole because some kids asked me 21 questions and didn’t seem satisfied with any of my answers. I think I redeemed myself a few nights later, when a few of the same boys let me jump in their very serious volleyball match. (pictured above) 

After Sandema, time seemed to fly by. We spent one day relaxing at Zaina Lodge midway through the trip and it was the best decision EVER! After that we returned back to Tamale to get ready to leave and I wanted one more evening with the By Grace Women. 

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Only a few of the women were available, but I used a cloth I’d bought at the local market to create a backdrop. This would be our last night in Ghana, so after the photos we said good-bye to the women. 

One misconception about this photography work, is that it’s all exotic and glamorous. Instead, absolute exhaustion mixed with uncomfortable situations is more accurate. All while trying to execute a creative vision.

With that being said, you either love it, or hate it…and I love it! 

So many more powerful stories are coming in 2018 and I can't wait to share them. Leave your feedback, questions, or love below! 

-Tara Shupe