I pick up my phone, as I do maybe ten times a day to scroll through the latest uploads on Instagram. Dozens of new images fill my feed, stunning images, compelling moments captured by photographers, friends and creatives from all over the world. I double click with love and appreciation for the time and skill it takes to craft these often gallery worthy 2×1 pictures on the hand held device in front of me. It’s been months now since I removed the Facebook App from my phone. I had been feeling a desperate need to quieten the noise filling my head every moment that I let it, and so Instagram quickly transitioned into my social media fancy of choice.

As photographers we tend to follow fellow photographers, it’s this thing we do. We love to support, and nurture, we love to be inspired and view lives distant in time and place away from ours setting our spirits free in the process. And it works. Well, that is until it doesn’t work. It keeps us buzzing right up until the moment when the hundreds, if not thousands, of images we see every week grab hold of our insecurities and squeezes really blooming tightly. The voice inside us nags ‘but, but look at these captures. Look at the light, the love, the connection, the beautiful locations, those clothes and ahh such attractive, interesting looking people. Seriously, who do you think you are anyway?’ And bit by bit, slowly you stop picking up your camera quite so much. That love and passion you felt when you first started out, shooting every little detail fades and your ability to see the beauty in your everyday diminishes. What are you then left with? An emptiness and an inner artist who shuts up shop until further notice.

It was at this point for me recently that a series of events began to manifest themselves. We had not long been back in the desert, an environment that I’m not afraid to admit leaves me somewhat dare I say, dried up. Regardless of this I’d charged head long back into work, taking on a mixture of projects and clients. My Dubai-head was back on, the hungry commercial beast was awake and ready. As the days and weeks forged on the sensitive inner artist I’d started to nurture during our year in the Indian Ocean was sent cowering to a corner, there was limited room for her in the sun scorched sands of this Middle Eastern metropolis. Or so I thought.

Although I was busy and happy in my work I still felt something was missing. At this very same time there was something else going on for me. I was pregnant and nervous as hell. After three losses, one which had malformed into cancer a year earlier, this was a pregnancy that from the very moment that extra little line appeared on the test became pretty much the pivotal focus of my waking thoughts. I continued to work during the first four months, in-between the tiredness, vomitting and nausea, with more sessions booked in months ahead. It was then we went for our 20 week scan, an appointment I had been eagerly awaiting for weeks knowing that once those developmental boxes had been ticked I could breathe a little easier and the excited planning stages could begin. Sadly this wasn’t to be. As it transpired my now 40 year old body, one which had taken a hammering a year earlier was not holding out. I was strongly advised right there and then to cease working, put my feet up and rest it out preventing pre-term labour and the possible loss of this little person so dearly loved already. Four to five months stretched out in front of me like an enormous gapping hole of time, time in which I not only wanted but needed to keep busy.

As fate would have it, just a few weeks before receiving the diagnosis I’d reached out to a photographer who I greatly admire. Someone who in the tidal wave of talent hitting my IG feed every week always stood out to me. Someone who I know struggles with some of the doubting I do, hell how many of us don’t? And yet through it all produces truly beautiful imagery time and time again, imagery which talks me to, leaves me wondering and is very much against  the grain of many of the current trends and styles. I’d sent her a chance message asking if she did mentoring. I was eager to work with her but hadn’t seen anything on her site about such an opportunity. It wasn’t that I wanted to be the next her, I didn’t want to mimic, or find shortcuts to how she creates her compelling diptychs or story telling images. What I was eager to learn was how, even in days of darkness (or in my case light saturation), she kept on creating and growing. Her name is Cindy Cavanagh, and in my eyes she is an artist in every sense of the word.

I was delighted when Cindy messaged me back and I have to say it was pretty damn near perfect timing. Although she’d not done formalised mentoring before she was ready to work with fellow photographers on just this. We planned it for the month of May and all was set.

Without vulnerability you can not create // Brene Brown

As the start of our time together approached I was in a lot of pain due to my pregnancy and associated complications, I was shooting less and less every week and missing it like mad so having communication with a fellow photographer and a plan of action was like a breath of fresh air.

Cindy is based in Sydney, Australia so any communication would be over email or Facebook, but at no point did I feel a disconnect. Cindy began the month by opening her heart to me, she shared some of the processes she had been through to see, feel and embrace the artist she is today. Her honesty and ability to guide me as I burrowed down on the things that mattered most about shooting was simply wonderful. I felt supported, encouraged and yet never palmed off with shallow niceties. I wouldn’t say our time was about self-discovery, it was more a case of reflection of self whilst being cradled in an environment of safety. As the month passed we ran through a series of exercises to help me view and acknowledge my own unique perspective on the world no matter where I am – South-East Asia, Dubai, Europe, the Seychelles and through our work together the pitch and tone of my voice became clearer to me. I have begun to feel less swayed by trends, less influenced by the masses and although I look forward to having years of learning and growing still ahead of me I feel released and happier than I have in a long time with the way I see and translate the world into images. I now embrace sharing more as I feel I’m being honest with myself and not simply yearning for relatability and the award of that little red heart from those I’ve never met somewhere in the world scrolling through dozens of recently uploaded Instagram posts. Cindy quite simply helped me find the calm in my chaos, and for that I am truly grateful.

Why am I sharing this post here today? It is I guess part of the reflection of self. Since I started my training to become a ‘professional photographer’ seven years ago I’ve morphed from a photojournalist, to a documentary portrait photographer (a self adhered title that no one ever really got!), to more simply a ‘family lifestyle photographer’. I’m still not sure I’ve found the right title for me yet but what I do know is that I’ve found my script to work from, and that’s a great place to start. We’ve moved as many times as I have fingers on my left hand and as I’ve rebuilt my business each time I’ve lost myself a little more along the way. This enforced time out over the past few months has been a gift which I’ve endeavoured to use as wisely as I could and my investment with hiring a mentor has really made a difference. As I venture forward I’m excited to see how things will evolve. Cindy was the right fit for me and I can highly recommend her but with so many photographers offering online and in-person mentoring now it’s about finding the right fit for you BUT be ready as it could change everything for you, in ways you can’t even imagine right now.

Interspersed in this post are images from my archives which I feel truly represent who I am as a photographer today. They shout from the roof tops of my soul and kick me out of bed even at almost nine months pregnant to keep on telling my story.

Be brave, be bold, be you and never stop creating.

Cindy Cavanagh // cindy.cavanagh@gmail.com // Instagram

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  • Lauren

    Beautiful self reflection Chloe. So glad Cindy was the right fit for you and helped you through. Good luck with the birth of your little love.ReplyCancel

  • Not only are you a wonderful photographer but a wonderful writer! All the best with the upcoming birth.ReplyCancel

  • Beautiful words Chloe! It sounds like Cindy was definitely perfect for you and it doesn’t surprise me, she is amazing in talent and heart. The images you have shown here are breathtaking. XReplyCancel

  • I just love your photographs and this post really spoke to me. Thank you and wishing you best wishes for your baby girl. x ReplyCancel

Working creatively, be it professionally or personally, can be such a gift. It can also be like wading through thick mud in your gumboots. To maintain a level of creative output even when feeling uninspired can be tough, and well I’m not afraid to admit I’ve been hiding for a few months but this last week I feel like I’ve begun to turn a corner.  And so when Maxi begged to play on his trampoline in his pyjamas this weekend, I felt something inside me stir. He beckoned me to join him in the garden and I asked if it was ok for me to bring my camera – he agreed – it’s this beautiful trust we are beginning to build, I will only shoot when he’s happy for me to do so, and it means a lot to us both. It’s been a couple of months since I shared a post within the wonderful Moments that Matter blog circle and I’m delighted to be back on the horse again. Here is a whole lot of Maximus Happiness and Lensbaby love, I hope you enjoy them as much as we loved shooting them { don’t forget to scroll down and link through to the next wonderful artist for this month celebrating some of their own moments that matter }

Follow through here to enjoy the lovely Bec Stewart’s Moments that Matter this month.

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  • Lauren

    These are so artistic and creative Chloe!ReplyCancel

  • Juanita

    Great movement in these.  I admire those who use a lensbaby.  I just cannot get on with mine 🙂  ReplyCancel

  • Bev

    So lovely, Chloe. I feel I know Max, even though I didn’t get to meet him.  It has been such a pleasure to watch him grow. He is a beautiful boy. ??ReplyCancel

  • You’re so good with a lensbaby! I love these images. The softness and movement and colour is breathtaking. You can really feel how much you loved taking them. ?ReplyCancel

  • Janine

    Love the creativity in those! Can’t wait to follow your work in future ReplyCancel

  • Polly

    Chloe these are fantastic! I love trampoline shots! ReplyCancel

  • Cindy

    Love your creativity in these images.  You captured his joy beautifully.  ReplyCancel

    • chloelodge

      Thank you Cindy, that’s such a compliment coming from you xxReplyCancel

  • Polly

    I love all of these Chloe. xReplyCancel

52 weeks, 365 days. Wow where did it go? Just over a year ago I was invited to start contributing to a wonderful project called Wish You Were Here in a Year. It’s a weekly glimpse into the life of a group of photographers who are dotted across the globe. There is no prompt, agenda or plan – it is simply to document in our own individual ways a sense of place, a feeling or simply a passing moment which is important to us. The synchronicity of some weeks is breathtaking, the images stunning and as a project in it’s own living and breathing right I love it as a place to come together with such great ladies living separate lives but sharing as a whole as we go. On to 2017… I simply can’t wait.

Here’s a little recap from where I left off in Part One. There is our final glimpse of the Indian ocean, to a glorious summer in Mallorca and then moving ‘home’ to Dubai. What a year. A crazy, wonderful year. My Wish You Were Here in a Year Part II.

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I just had to end 2016 sharing a handful more moments from this session, it’s been one of my absolute favourites… bring on 2017 that’s all I can say… thank you Catherine, Rob, Poppy, Hope and Tim for rocking our time together.

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Winter months in the Middle East are the loveliest of them all, precious months which make summers here a little more palatable. When the sun shines, the air is clear, the breeze is blissful, and some days it’s even windy enough to fly kites. And that’s just what we did a few weekends ago. Out in the desert, with only a few distant camels for company, the three of us and a couple of kites. Family times. What better moments that matter for this month’s blog circle? { don’t forget to scroll down and link through to the next wonderful artist for this month celebrating some of their own moments as our year comes to an end, here’s to 2017, may it be incredible for all }

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Follow our blog circle round by enjoying moments that matter to my fellow Dubai photographer, Natalie Robinson.

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  • Bec Stewart

    What a beautiful part of the world you live in! I just love these. The very last image is my favourite. ❤ReplyCancel

    • chloelodge

      Thank you Bec, it’s a very special place and although I miss the green sometimes it’s amazing and a privilege to live in amongst this landscape.ReplyCancel

  • Wow Chloe!!!!  Dubai is on my bucket list now.  Love this desert photos.  Beautiful job.ReplyCancel

    • chloelodge

      Thank you Juanita, it’s a very unique place and this time of year is seriously lovely.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren

    Looks awesome, so foreign to the city 🙂 beautiful memoriesReplyCancel

  • That first photo <3 love!!!ReplyCancel

    • chloelodge

      Thank you Yana, I have a thing for trees so even in the desert I seek them out xxReplyCancel

  • Wow Chloe! Beautiful captures & I’m incredibly fascinated by the landscape. Love the negative space you’ve used in this collection. ReplyCancel

    • chloelodge

      Thank you Kelly, the skies are so big out there I couldn’t help but shoot it with lots of room to breathe xReplyCancel

  • Sheree Kershaw

    We have been flying kites lately, but I am rather envious of this desert setting. So much so I just shared these images with my family because I was damn jealous. Stunning setting, stunning moments captured. <3ReplyCancel

    • chloelodge

      Wow, thank you Sheree. Wouldn’t it be fun to swap places with other photographers for a little while. Maybe we should start an exchange programme?!!! xxReplyCancel

  • I’m obsessed with clouds so you had me at the first image! What a stunning place and you capture it so beautifully ReplyCancel

    • chloelodge

      Thank you Marlene, what a lovely compliment xxReplyCancel

  • Your images always make me smile! Love this series with the kites! ReplyCancel

  • Tara

    I get such a feel of the expansiveness of the landscape in these. So beautiful!ReplyCancel

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