My kids have been studying the concept of "Sukkat Shalom," which is Hebrew for the phrase "Shelter of Peace," which means a sense of safety, peace, and wholeness. They've learned that it can refer to a physical place, a person or group that makes you feel safe, whole, and peaceful, or even an object or activity that brings the same sense of contentment.
As they've learned about Sukkat Shalom, they've been asked to think about these questions:
- What do you think it means for others?
- How do I see others create this for themselves?
- What does it mean to me?
- How do I create Sukkat Shalom for myself?
- How vulnerable do you think it is? What if something happens to my Sukkat Shalom?
- How can I create safety, peace, and wholeness for others?
Sophisticated and important ideas for a 7- and 5-year-old, right?
Seems to me that the concept of Sukkat Shalom and the questions are suitable for all ages. I've certainly been thinking about them. At a recent studio session, I realized something: the photography studio is one of my places of peace and wholeness, it's one example of my Sukkat Shalom.
At the studio session, the model, her mom, and I sat for an hour, chatting and creating. We had great laughs and made beautiful portraits. Just living in that space together was such a joy. I wasn’t lugging gear around a park or chasing kids. I didn’t have to battle an ever-changing sky or other people walking by. There were no distractions or intrusions. It was just us spending time together and creating. I loved it.
Since April of this year, I've been hosting studio sessions, and at every session I've felt this same sense of joy and gratitude. Each time I have someone in my studio, I love the time we get to catch up, share stories, and create beautiful photos. There's something almost sacred about the space and energy we can create together.
I also think about what it takes to create comfort and peace for the person being photographed. Most people don't really enjoy being in front of the camera. I have to do my best to create a place of safety and wholeness for them. And that mental and physical space is fragile, too. I'm constantly adjusting and checking in, making sure that our connection and joy remain. And in the end, the resulting portraits ultimately exemplify that time and space we created.
My photography studio is an example of all the different types of Sukkat Shalom: it's a physical space, it's always filled with people, and it allows me to do an activity that fulfills me.
I never expected to consider my photography studio in such a spiritual way. But my kids' lessons on Sukkat Shalom helped me realize that it's more than just a place to make portraits. We truly are creating a space of calm, peace, joy, and wholeness.
I am grateful to have this deeper understanding. I hope you'll join me to have a shared experience and create with me soon.
Jewelry by Madi Made.