Monday, January 21, 2013

Awakening to beauty

I remember discovering, in photography class, the difference between taking photographs (which was what I'd been doing up until that time) and making photographs (which was what I learned to do in that class).

Much of that difference was a matter of intention, of becoming intentional about what we chose to photograph and how we composed the image.  In those pre-digital days -- we shot slides, so we could look at and critique them later -- it was all about being selective, not wasting film.

But now I think -- and I wonder if the digital camera has anything to do with this -- photography feels to me like it's more about awakening to, or simply awakening, a photograph.  It's more about being awake to my surroundings, about noticing and responding -- and then, later, in Photoshop, awakening the beauty that caught the eye originally; unwrapping all the beauty that the camera couldn't quite capture.

This weekend was all about fog: we had some sort of inversion going, and it was like living in London -- the fog was this tangible presence, all day long, never lifting.  And up in the mountains, where the temperature never rose above freezing, the fog decorated the edges of everything -- trees, weeds, grasses, leaves, ferns -- with an icy white lace that had a bluish glow to it.

I was aware of it at some level, but driving home I was more trying to figure out the most efficient route, so eventually I pulled off the road to look at a map -- and it wasn't until I'd pulled onto the road again that I realized this beautiful barn and all the lacy trees behind it stood just off to my right.  I ended up having to go several miles down the road and then turn back in order to get the shot I could easily have taken from my perch beside the road if I had just... awakened.  And yes, I lost some time doing that -- but it was worth it!


Cheryl said...

To me what you describe is akin to Learning to see with your heart and being aware that you are doing so at any given time.

Jan said...


Louise Gallagher said...

Oh wow. That is stunningly beautiful -- and I love the analogy of awakening... Beautiful

Suella said...

Thank you so much for turning around to capture this image! It touches me at a very deep place. Can it be awe?
It resonates with my morning reading from Heschel's "God in Search of Man," in his chapter titled "Awe." Awakening to wonder - Heschel writes "The beginning of awe is wonder, and the beginning of wisdom is awe."