Photography is Good for You

As soon as I posted my last blog, Photography is Bad for You, I knew I really had to follow it up, and quickly with this one: Photography is good for you. When I say “you”, clearly, I mean me. Photography is good for me. There, that’s the correct way to talk about it.

I pressed the “post” button and knew I did not want to publicize that sentiment until I had it in context with its flip side. And, yeah, it was probably a little on the whiny side. Well, I’ve often heard that, “You have to suffer for your art.” And, while I do not quite believe it, as writ, I do believe that most of us face many obstacles, no matter what our path or focus. Sometime s a little vent helps move things along.

Having that out of my system, I stood looking out the window at the birds around our feeders. Just a few breaths and some loving attention later, I was swept by not only a gentle wave of calm, but by a swelling of my passion for photography. Someone once asked my what photography was all about for me. He mocked me and rolled his eyes when I answered, but I really do mean it: every frame is an act of love. I’d imagine that it easy to comprehend when I am photographing those I love, but it is even true when I am working commercially.

I choose my subject matter and my clients carefully. And, when I step behind the camera, it is a matter of service. My job is to capture whatever the subject matter is, to do it as kindly, attentively, and completely as I can. If the work is sympatico, it might be easier, though it might not. Conditions and circumstances also play into the level of difficulty. But, no matter what, I have to fall into what I am doing. I let much fall away and hope that seeing becomes a way of being for that time. There are moments where it is like flying or like a dream. Sometimes I press the shutter and I know that, barring some bizarre catastrophe, that was it. A magic moment captured, a memory held.

Like many creative say of being in their process, I often can’t tell you much about details beyond finding my image. One night, I came back, and my husband asked if there was a full band or just the singer songwriter on stage after a concert. “Ummmmmm…” “OK, was there a drummer?” “Ummmmm…” I looked at my screen and scrolled back a few images. “No!” I could have told you about my favorite shot, the great profile, the twinkly lights in the background, but… I had not heard the band. In fact, these days, when I want to listen to a concert, I shut my eyes, instinctively. Took much looking, getting lost in seeing in that special way, reaching for that magic, working for it, reflexively.

I looked at those little birds that day after posting the last blog. I breathed, and I thought, “I see you.” I see you. I really see you. I love you. I am in the moment. I am present. There is only the moment. Now, that is good for me. Photography is good for me.

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