The idea that art can bring you closer to yourself is something I have explored in depth over the past few years. My self-portrait journey was a learning experience not only photographically, but artistically and mentally as well. What about art bringing you closer to another person?

When I was in college, one of my best friends and I would write letters to one another. Her words were written from her apartment in Northern California, mine were from my home in Nevada. These weren’t just any letters, they were poems. She would write, and I would answer by writing the next line, almost in a round robin fashion. We created pages of poetry, words and sentences that stood alone as two separate pieces, and yet they were much more when read together.  The idea that a photograph can communicate beyond what the spoken or written word can is part of what I enjoy about creating.

During the past few months, I have been an observer of a love story.  I’ve seen the restlessness, the angst, but most of all I’ve seen a connection between two people.  Their photographic collaboration opened doors of creativity as well as their hearts.  Ben and Celina are each a muse for the other.  Thank you both for being open enough to share your journey with us today.

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Sometimes something unexpected is born from a creative collaboration. Sometimes when searching within ourselves we connect with another being at a time when a need greater than artistic expression is waiting to be fulfilled.  Our story is one that begins with an admiration of each others work and a shared view of the world around us. What we didn’t realize was that deep love and adoration waited to be found in our shared appreciation for photography and instant film. Through giant leaps of vulnerability and with both of us stepping far outside our comfort zones, a new type of relationship took hold.

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Our first major collaboration together quickly became a way for us to explore getting to know each other and understanding our photographic voices better. The problem was we lived 5000 miles apart. With Ben in the United Kingdom and Celina in the United States a connection quickly turned into something much more despite the challenge of distance.

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It is no secret that we came together under less than ideal circumstances. We fell in love at a time when neither of us were in a position to do so. The despair and heartache was, and still is, a burden almost too great to bear. Despite all of that, a deep connection formed in a way that was impossible to ignore.

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Our love and collaboration became fused and almost a single entity. No longer were we able to separate the two. So we did what only we knew how to do and that was collaborate on love to help us count the days apart. There is no greater love writer than Pablo Neruda. We looked to him for inspiration for a recent collaboration to help us endure the span between visits. The poem was Ode of Burgeonings. The words were ones that resonated with us. The photos were iPhone shots holding secret messages to each other.  Each day became something to look forward to like a beacon of hope until we were together again.

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As we sit writing this, it is 5:00am in Sussex and 10:00pm in Boise. Once again we find ourselves overcoming the challenge of distance to work together. When it comes down to it, collaboration is something we all must do in this world, whether at home or work or out with friends. Working together is how we humans survive, learn, love and create. It boils down to the fact that working together helps us develop a deeper relationship and evolve. Without this, we risk an isolating life. Our advice to you is to go out and find someone to collaborate with.  Who knows…. you may just find the absolute love of your life, your soul mate.

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I challenge you to collaborate with a lover or a friend creatively. You may just learn something about yourself and them that you never knew.