I'm an American expat, writer. photographer. and old-fashioned romantic in love with celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I appreciate timelessness, the natural world, and a slow life lived with simplicity and intention. When I'm not photographing families or  slowly traveling the world and writing about it in a little notebook, I'm happily grounding myself in nature and cozying up with my sweet husband.

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Something I believe wholeheartedly is that why you do something is more important than what you do.

It is more important, more powerful to understand why you choose to do something before thinking about what you want to do or HOW you’re going to do it. Beginning with the question of “why?” is the first step – a step that affects the longevity and influence of any project undertaking.

Without knowing why we want to do something, we are aimless, wandering, and inconsistent with our personal mission and journey. But once we’ve figured out why, the rest is easy and unfolds seamlessly. 

Start with Why

Earlier this spring, I read Start with Why by Simon Sinek, and boy, did it resonate with me immensely.

The book flowed to my life like the genie’s magical lamp. It had been at the top of my reading list, and someone gave it to me at the airport! With no explanation but “I’d like you to have it.” I read it immediately but slowly milked each page, holding onto the depth of the words, the simplicity and profoundness of the message for days. I wrote copious amounts of note and thoughts in the margins of the text, and I found my thoughts constantly drifting back to this message of….starting with why. 

It made so much sense! My spirit’s greater service, my inner guidance, it spoke to me quietly, fully, resonating with me on a deeper level unlike the quick chatter and urgency of my mind’s ego.

Before I could become crystal clear on what I was going to do, or how I was going to set out to do it, I had to understand why I was doing it in the first place! Why this was so important to me.

couple kissing in polaroid photography from LALALAB

Figuring Out Your Purpose and Understanding Your Why 

Understanding your purpose is easier than it looks. The answers are always within us, always quietly whispering for us to take notice. How would you spend your days on earth if money weren’t an issue? What would you do for free?

My early twenties felt like a sea of confusion, inconsistency and then finally understanding my soul’s greater purpose and values in my mid-twenties. It consisted of 5 years of experimenting, testing and playing with no real end point, mission or overall goal. In essence, I was data-collecting. 

But in the back of mind, all this time, I felt deep down that I’ve always had a quiet sense of the greater message underlying all of my actions. When I read this book, my inner guidance system picked up on my subconscious thoughts, and suddenly all of it began to be crystal clear. (Finally! After 5 years of mentally searching.)

My purpose is deeper than just being a “children’s photographer” or “writer” or “blogger.”  It’s so much greater than that! So much simpler and so much easier…

Understanding My Purpose

To reflect light and inspire joy in the everyday.

It’s to inspire others to find the little joys and play of their everyday lives. To joyfully encourage others to naturally follow their hearts. To live, quite simply, a life of pure joy. 

It’s why I love children so much. It’s why I am most inspired by the themes of childhood, animals, the natural world, laughter, family life, pure LOVE! 

It comes easiest to me: seeing the joy and light in my daily life. I am, at my core, an eternal optimist, able to see the magic in the mundane, the light in the darkest of times. It is my greatest strength and my steadfast companion. It is part of me, in the deepest of my spirit’s essence. 

This is my greatest gift, and what better gift to give others than to reflect light?

reflecting light and inspiring joy in the everyday with helena woods

So…why photography?

To savor life. To celebrate love in the present moment. To feel the past, imagine the future and savor the now. To live fully and live more. These images, these visual representations, are more than just photographs. They are stories that reveal who we are, as living breathing souls, in this present moment. It reveals our depth, our essence, our ability to savor life. Photography is about time. It is so much more than we realize. 

Having one photo becomes a story in and of itself. It tells a story about who the person is in that very precious moment of life. It becomes a portrait.  I want my clients to have one beautiful photo that will stand the test of time – this is what I aim with my work.

Why Writing?

Because I have zero talent in explaining or expressing myself clearly through oral communication. It’s awful, but it’s true!

I have a natural ability to express my heart through the written word. It comes naturally and easily to me, just as I am naturally able to see the joys in life. I feel safest with a pen, the ink crawling and gliding along with the smooth paper. I feel most at home with a notebook. I am reminded of my childhood: the natural joys I experienced writing and recording the observations of my small town in my little diary, year after year after year…

Photography and writing are methods to express the light I see in my everyday. By sharing the images, the words, and most importantly by simply living my life as I normally do, I can hopefully inspire others and show others that joy through example.

Your Purpose Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

Your purpose, “why”, or soul’s mission can be relatively simple and straightforward like mine is. It doesn’t have to be complex or look attractive or interesting to others. Your purpose, your “why” is all about you, the inner part of you.

Examples of purpose as an intention could be…

” to empower others to love themselves and the skin they’re in”

“to protect (or nurture) others” or

“to stand up for the rights of others’ ____”

“to teach _____” or to motivate others to “____”

as I see so often on social media, “to embrace the messy, authentic part of you.”

and most importantly, WHY do you want to do this? What drives you? Fuels you and makes you want to get out of bed every morning? The purpose behind it can be small or grand, impressive or humble. 

Once you’ve found your true “why,” then you have endless possibilities: what you will you do to express your why and how will you express it?

Your Purpose Will Begin to Unfold As It Should

It was interesting to find out that my name is a Greek name meaning “light” and “bright, shining torch.” My mother, who is very Greek, picked a fitting name. It all makes sense; it all comes together easily and seamlessly. A puzzle piece that fits perfectly with another.

That’s what finding and understanding your purpose, your WHY feels like. It feels like something that felt missing but has actually been there the entire time, waiting for you to open your eyes and discover it was right alongside you

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Finding Your Purpose and Why with NYC CT photographer Helena Woods

 

Finding Your Purpose and Why with NYC CT photographer Helena Woods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Do is Not As Important as WHY You Do It – Start with Why

April 22, 2019

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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical, emotionally honest family and children's portraiture. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I photograph families across the world. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.

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