A Year of Stories / by Carey Pace


If you've been with me for a while, you may remember that once upon a time my blogging tagline was "I am a storyteller."  

In fact, many years ago before I began to share my writing online, one of my most cherished friends and encouragers gifted me with this incredible necklace as a reminder of who I am and the voice I have in this world as I go about wielding this camera. 

I tell stories with my camera.  All those years ago, "lifestyle" or "documentary" photography wasn't as popular or "accepted" as it is now, and I often felt alone in this quest.  While I never wavered from photographing what naturally occurred around me, times have changed.  It seems that 'lifestyle photography' is now all the rage.  Incredible imagery of so called Storytellers is everywhere you turn.  Where I once felt alone, I'm surrounded by an incoming tide of storytelling imagery.  With the increasing popularity of documentary type photos (and those who can churn them out) came an increasing number of folks labeling themselves as storytellers. It has become a buzzword.  I dropped the tagline as I became more uncomfortable with that self applied title.  Who am I to call myself A Storyteller?!?  

I struggle with this.  I have a hard time calling myself A Photographer, though my camera is an extension of my arm.  I am one who photographs.  I have a hard time calling myself A Writer, though sometimes I feel my chest may explode if I cannot get the words out fast enough.  I am one who writes.  I have an even harder time imagining labeling myself A Storyteller.  I have no training, no schooling, no degrees for any of those labels.  I know nothing of formal storytelling, which I believe with all my heart is a true art all its own.  How can I have the audacity to call myself a Storyteller?  I suppose I shall stick to the pattern and just say that I am one who tells stories.  

Regardless of the labels, I believe there is much power in playing an active role in your own story and photographing it as a means to remember.  I am telling the story of my life, and my children's lives, with my camera.  It is an investment.  But I also share my imagery as a means of encouragement to others who are this quest of life on this earth.  I want people to be present with their children, play with their children, be outdoors, to seek adventure, to take risks, to be uncomfortable and push the boundaries.  And the only way I know how to do that is to tell you our story. 

I was incredibly honored when Mel Karlberg asked me if I'd be willing to participate in a group project this year called A Year of Stories.  As one who has often felt the outsider in the photography world, it was an incredible encouragement to be sought after.  But more than that, she sees the value in telling our stories with our imagery AND with our words.  Each Monday this year, our circle (All of which are new to me! All!) will share stories together.   A thing can be so much more than the thing is in and of itself when it is done together.  

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we

Those lyrics from "O Holy Night" have tiptoed through my mind all day as I've considered this project and the stories we will tell.  May our collective imagery and stories serve as hymns of joy and fierce gratitude that we raise, together.  

Please be sure to scroll to the end and follow the link to the next photographer in the circle.  Thank you!

My first story is from our Christmas Eve.  Winter seems to be dragging its heels to descend upon Virginia.  With temperatures approaching 70F (a most unusual occurrence this time of year), we had to spend the day out of doors.  The previous weekend we had explored the woods bordering our property, but since then it had rained.  And rained.  And rained.  Flash flood warnings were abundant and we were awfully curious what the tiny stream that meanders through our woods would be like.  

It turned out to be a muddy torrent of a stream, but the perfect size for children.  Thankfully it was warm enough to get wet and muddy and not be too terribly uncomfortable.  They viewed this as Spartan Race practice, climbing the steep banks and traversing over fallen logs, submerging in the murky water without hesitation.  At one point the Boy turned to me and said "Best. Christmas. Eve. Ever!"  I doubt we'll ever have another like it, and I doubt we'll ever top this one in its joy.  

Here are the photos that tell this story.  Well, the first half of the photos. We were out there a long time, and I photographed all of it.  Find the second half here.

(The second half of the images for this story can be found here)

Please visit Mel Karlberg Photography to see how she is telling her story, and complete the tour around our circle.