Browsing "Photography"
Dec 26, 2010 - Photography, Raw Thoughts    No Comments

Learning to See

I’ll be honest with you. I’ve been rather intimidated to write anything lately. Not sure why. Thinking a lot. Making a lot. But I don’t have much to show for all my processing yet. You know those seasons when you doubt yourself? I’ve been doubting whether I have much to say through writing. Which is odd, because I’ve never doubted that particular facet of my life before.

I’ve been reading this marvelous little book I picked up at the Goodwill called Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time. I’m not sure I agree with everything she has to say, but I do know that her words are making me think. She talks a lot about a childlike state of thinking and creating – of taking in the world. Not so much in a sense of maturity, but of wonder. The wonder that allows us to believe in angels and other realms. L’Engle says that artists are often among the few adults who retain some of these childlike characteristics. Through the call of creating, and how that comes about through responding to the world around us. Interesting thoughts. Hard to summarize for you.

Today I woke to a wonderland of a new world – that’s right. I woke to the most snow I have seen since I was a little Rachel living on a mountain in western NC. Odd timing for this snow to come, what with reading this book. It was a gift. I could not help thinking about my time in France. The connection? Soaking in every last detail of a new environment. Relishing it. Visually. Sensing. The sound of a tree branch easing from beneath the weight of piled snow – a soft plop of white next to me. The crunch of snow packing beneath my boot. Bird feathers in flight. The slush in the center of the road from the car tires. The beautiful bird bath nearly camoflaged in the middle of a circle of snowy birch trees.

Spotted bark. Dark and light. The feeling of my fingers numbing on my camera. The burning sensation of thawing indoors. The warm glow of our Christmas lights trapped in the snow – what glorious colors!

Today was a gift for me to see again. No expectations. No plans. All thoughts relating to the current world suspended to explore the snowy white reality around me. A curtain, a cloak. With which to see better.

I love the photo at the top of this page. Just want to throw that out there. Not entirely sure why. I’ve been photographing a lot lately. A lot. Now that I’m not a photo major, I feel this great release from expectations. I am beginning to photograph with the same freedom I had when I first started out. Experiments. Wanting to carry my camera with me everywhere – to capture my family, my friends. The little details of my daily existence. Instead of the prevailing mindset I’ve had for far too long: leave the camera at home; don’t feel obligated to capture everything; don’t be that photo nerd; enjoy your time – don’t spend it behind the lens. Those are sad statements, but that’s how I’ve actually felt. Things are different now. I race up to my room to grab my tripod out of the corner so I can get that shot; I pull on my boots quickly so I can get a shot of our house in the snow before the sun goes completely down.

That photo at the top. It is my favorite because it is delicate. And it records an experience, not just a scene. An interaction between an artist and an environment. Not a postcard. Not a facebook album cover. The color is gorgeous. But the focus, the crispness of the snow on the green shutter, the intricacy of the barely-there branches against white sky… mmmm. The funny thing is I don’t specifically remember composing or noticing this shot. I just found it in my files at the end of the day and said, “Yes, that captures my day in the snow.” My day just being.

I want to drink in light again. Words, poetry, sounds, thoughts, ideas, textures. I miss these things. Perhaps my winter of quietly thinking and patiently waiting will allow me the refreshed mind and spirit needed to pull water from the well again.