Written by G Streat
Fear. It can be quite the powerful motivator. When left unchecked, it robs us of our light and possibilities. Lisa Collins-Haynes knows a little something about that. After being pushed into a pool at a young age, Lisa became a hydrophobe. Instead of letting that define her, it inspired her. “At this point in my life, I feel like I was destined to become an underwater photographer.”
As a travel writer, Lisa noticed that the photos she submitted with her articles weren’t making the cut. “I would get the articles back and they were using different pictures. I was like oh, they must have not liked my pictures.” Her journey like her work is anything but typical. “I started learning about photography and fell in love with it.”
But transitioning to underwater photography was no crystal stair. “No, I didn’t want to swim because I thought I was going to die!” During a press trip Lisa was forced to face her fear head on. On a snorkeling trip in the Andaman Sea, it all came to a head. Seized by her fear, a panic attack prevented her from jumping. Upon returning home, she took swimming lessons and conquered her long-standing fear.
As Lisa opens up about how her identity as a black woman influences her work, I find myself nodding in agreement. “I just know that I do what I do, I do it the best way I know how. I do it the best way I can. I always deliver impeccable service to all my clients. And I try to break through the barriers because sometimes it’s very hard for us to work with us.”
Lisa’s work is a reflection of her newfound relationship with water. “The calming and the peacefulness of an underwater session is like nothing else I’ve experienced,” she explains. “Now I’m at peace with it.” Her ability to transform how she reacts to water is awe-inspiring. It makes me take a step back and think about my immediate environment, how I relate to it and how that relationship influences both my mood and my own state of mind. “It’s a whole new world down there! It’s so peaceful. I love it.” The waves of gratitude in her voice are endearing.
“If I say that I’m gonna do it, I do it no matter what.” Her will is indomitable. Having the courage to face one’s fear and use that very thing as a medium for self-expression, maaaaaaan listen. That, right there…that’s what this thing we call “art” is made of. Yeah, I ended that with a preposition, don’t trip. I’m just over here marveling at this sister’s emotional fortitude as well as her craft.
“A little water don’t stop no show.” There she goes again. It’s easy to sense the smile in her voice. Catching myself daydreaming about her process, I can’t help but wonder how Lisa inspires her subjects, what she feels as she’s creating during her underwater sessions and the sense of accomplishment she must feel upon completion of each project.
Her philosophy on art also applies to our day-to-day. “It’s subjective, just do what you want to do.”
Among the many motifs found in Lisa’s journey, work and process, empowerment shines bright.
I’m saying though, who needs permission when you have conviction.
To view more of Lisa’s work visit www.charmedlifephotography.com