Student Stories: Healing // by Lindsay Ritchie

Over twenty years ago, my dad handed me his old Minolta. I’ve been enchanted with the art of photography ever since. I was just beginning to turn it into a business a few years ago when I received severe criticism from someone I trusted. The words were too much for me – I shut down completely. I put away my camera and didn’t pick it up again for over a year.


In the spring of 2015, my husband got a new job and we moved our family across the state, leaving behind everything that had been safe and familiar. This move was extremely difficult and we went through a period of deep grieving. We were leaving strong ties to our community, relationships that had developed over years of ups and downs, the only home our children had ever known, and a neighborhood where all the kids played together for hours.

Seeking out the beauty in the world around me helped move me out of my despair. My husband’s new job brought smartphones into our lives and I started documenting our move with my new iPhone camera. Sharing my photos in a tiny, private Instagram community felt safe and it quickly became my favorite part of my day. Once again I fell in love with the art of photography and the way it was helping me to heal from the grief of moving.



Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was also helping me to heal from the wounds of rejection. I started believing in myself as an artist again. I was no longer trying to mold myself and my art into what others wanted me to be, but began taking pictures for myself and for my own deep healing.


As I gained courage, I started investing in my art. I read books like Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Rising Strong by Brene Brown. I started taking more classes at The Define School, and in July of 2016 I took Foundations of Black + White with Michelle Gardella.

It was in this class that I shared my journey of shame and creativity and confessed that I wanted to do more with photography. But I was afraid and didn’t even know where to begin. Michelle’s response was this: “The key is to think less and do more. It’s harder than it sounds, but it’s the only way! YOU CAN DO IT! All you have to do is grant yourself permission to do what you need to do. I believe in you.”


Michelle’s words lit a fire inside me. I had been standing on the edge; I just needed to give myself permission to jump. In the end it couldn’t come from anyone else – I had to be the one to jump.

It’s been six months since that pivotal moment, and in the last six months I’ve jumped. I started building my portfolio, ordered business cards, launched a website, and booked my first full paying client.



Fear is the thing that was holding me back. Let’s face it; fear is always present, but fear can’t be the prevailing emotion from which I make decisions.

I’ve come to believe that I need my art and the world needs my art. As one of my heroes Brene Brown once said, “You are a born maker and we need what you can bring to us because you are the only one who can bring it.”



Lindsay is a homeschooling mom, storyteller, and image maker in Owosso, Michigan. She’s taken eight classes at DEFINE, including Visual Storytelling, Light + Life, The Art of Styling, Living in Lightroom, The Foundations of Black + White, and Driving Your Business. You can see more of Lindsay’s work on her website or Instagram.


Our “Student Stories” are just a few of the many testimonials and stories of growth we hear about from students in our community, along with some magnificent work. We hope you’re as inspired by these as we are.

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