Let me tell you a little about my dear friend, Em Scott. Em is a magical human. She is someone that everyone likes, without even trying. She’s fun, down for anything and always takes care of her friends. She’s also a fabulous mother and dreamy photographer. Em has shot countless things with me over the years. We share a love of making beautiful things. You can read about her creativity through film photography here.
I wanted to see what was at the core of Em’s creative essence. Where did she go to recharge and get inspired? She often spoke of her grandparents’ cottage and how it held a special place in her heart. A place where she could unplug, connect with her family and where her love of photography blossomed. I asked Em to share what it meant to her and how it’s defined her sense of home.
As a child, we came to the cottage to unwind, run free. It was an escape, but it was also a place to reconnect with family. There were always a few families overlapping in time when we would stay there. My grandparents had 12 children—each of the 12 had their own—and it was a huge unruly brood that would cycle through the screen doors every summer at the cottage in Belle River (Ontario, Canada).
I think that what made this place a special haven for all of us was its history. Our parents grew up going there and it held a vast and special history. Our parents set the stage for us. When we’d pull up the long grass drive for the first time, it was as if my dad began to exhale long and slow, letting out all the stress and pressure of his life as a single working parent with each exhale.
I think that the cottage has been torn down, but part of what it felt and smelled like would still be the same—the lake, the wildflowers growing along the train tracks, the farm across the road. The cabin was always an earthy-smelling place and I think that was part of what grounded me there.
Now that I really think about it, the cottage was the first place that I began to connect with nature. I’d wake with the sun in some musty bunk bed and immediately put on my swimsuit. I’d spend entire days sifting through the lakefront sand for shells, jumping off the dock, floating, swimming and even showering in the lake. Entire days spent barefoot and dirty. This is a special kind of magic.
When I would return as a young adult and even later as a married woman, I would remember that magic and let it transform my mind whenever I would return. As I got older, all I needed it to be was a place to escape and relax.
It’s an emotional connection because it’s shared with so many of my cousins, uncles, aunts. We have a book that family members would write in after each visit. Somehow this simple place would affect all of us in the same way, year after year. In many ways, I think we invited it to change us, with expectant hearts, summer after summer spent on the lakeshore.
It could have been anywhere, because what we were doing was making space. Space to recharge our own hearts with nature and with time spent together. I think as I grew older, the reason it began to provoke such creativity in my own heart was that it was the only place I slowed down enough to think.
After my grandparents passed, our family had to sell the cottage, and we collectively mourned its passing, too. It was a sacred place for us. But what I learned was that anytime I slow down enough to breathe and make space in my life, I find my creativity awakens. Whenever I’m feeling burnt out, I can trace it back to a lack of rest and time away from nature. I’m still learning how to prioritize rest as an essential part of living a creative life.”
Film photos by Em.