Monday, November 30, 2009

Finding Balance

Ok -- here's a trick question: where was this photograph taken?

Nope, not Venice, though certainly a lot of photos of Venice have appeared in this blog over the years. It's Florida whose cloudy skies and ruined glory you see here; an estate called Vizcaya, built by International Harvester Vice President James Deering around 1916 and designed specifically "to appear as an Italian estate that had stood for 400 years and had been occupied and renovated by several generations of a family."

We only spent a couple of hours at the estate -- it was lunchtime, and Grampa was getting hungry -- but it was in its own way a photographer's paradise; I'd love to have had more time to explore. And I wish my daughters -- one of whom is majoring in photography -- could have been with us that day; I feel certain they, too, would have been intrigued by the building and grounds.

Although... we've learned over the years that my daughters and I tend to photograph very different things. I was thinking about that this morning: I've started reading Ralph Hattersley's book, Discover Your Self Through Photography, and in the opening chapter it offers "60 time-tested ideas for photographs." Reading through that section I was actually somewhat startled to realize -- having been photographing most of my life, and professionally for around 15 years now -- how few of those ideas I had actually explored.

I've certainly SEEN photos in most of the categories he mentioned; I just haven't SHOT them. Which interests me, because according to Hattersley, photographers -- especially beginning ones -- are always looking for ideas of what to shoot. I suppose it could be my faulty 60-year-old memory, but I don't actually remember a time when I worried about that: it always seemed to me that there were subjects ASKING to be shot; my only job was to hear the question and then figure out what the best angle and lighting might be.

... which may explain any number of things, both about me and about my work... and may well hark back to my mother's voice, telling me I'm lazy. But I don't see it that way: to me it's more about the permeability of the boundaries between me and not-me. I suspect that the personality characteristics which make me choose carefully what books I read and which movies I see are the same characteristics which allow my environment to influence me and call to me. Which just goes to prove -- yet again -- that our weaknesses are almost always our strengths as well.

So if there's some aspect of your personality that's really bugging you this week, I invite you to take a moment and sit with it. Name it, claim it, try to love yourself in spite of it -- and then think about its opposite, and explore how much a part of you that opposite is, as well. It is in consciously working to strike a balance between those powerful strengths and weaknesses at the outer edges of our personalities, I suspect, that we can come to love ourselves, come closer to the Divine Connection we crave, and find our true calling.

But that's just a guess...

1 comment:

Maureen said...

I spent a day at Vizcaya many years ago. That view is still something.

Your post reminds me of some lines from Rilke: "Don't be confused by surfaces. . . Walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours--that is what you must be able to attain."