Browsing "Raw Thoughts"
Sep 24, 2009 - Raw Thoughts    2 Comments


Today marks the end of my second week of classes! And this snippet of a contact sheet is your first glimpse at my first color photographs. Well, first color negatives, really.

The frame at the bottom right lept right off the page at me. Out of four rolls of film, I was most excited about printing this one… it just seems to drip with a story. I now have a gorgeous 11 x 14 print of it here in my room ready for Tuesday’s critique. I am also looking forward to printing some of these eventually:

I adore Bradley’s Lock & Key. Going back with color film was a great decision – these shots are definitely different from the ones I shot last winter. The window light, clutter, keys, and old things like a typewriter buried in the middle of a thriving green plant… these things scream Rachel. If I was a shop, I think I might look a little something like this window at Bradley’s. Probably my best find in Savannah. The people there are great too – full of character. When I was there all the employees were disappointed to learn I was not there to have a key made – so they kept themselves occupied by watching the van across the street delivering food to a wedding. “Oooh Lawd, they havin’ bannana puddin’!”

Color Technique is hard. I had no idea color photography would be so different from black & white. Besides the obvious difference. The theory behind every adjustment we make is overwhelming – it swims in my head during class and refuses to bury in my brain 100%. I’m getting there, though. The biggest surprise I got was learning we had to do all of our darkroom work (everything up until chemical processing by the RA-4 machine) in complete darkness. No safelight. Most of you probably envision something like this when you think of a darkroom. Nice red light to see what you’re doing. Nope. None of that. 100% genuine darkness. Now you try squaring up a perfect contact sheet without being able to see it. I already have plenty of embarrassing stories.

Once again I am finding myself questioning the worth of my work – in seeing what my classmates produce, the different ways they think and portray their subjects. Every minute I am alive, it is more and more apparent to me that I am a small person. Socially. My internal world is huge – but it is mine. And I am a small part of the universe. You are busy photographing the grandeur of the sunsets, the fog across the morning mountains, the beauty lighting up a woman’s face. I take my time looking at the ground. I notice the acorns. The lone leaf that caught the window sill – his brothers on the ground. The dead plant inside the window pressed up against the glass – reflections of the outside trees shining all around him. They are beautiful things. Poetic. Tiny details. I am too shy to directly photograph the beautiful people I see. The closest I can come is … well, you really don’t want to know my tactics for how I photograph people. They are embarrassing.

God has made me to see beautiful things. And if those things happen to be green acorns on mossy pavement… well, so be it. In the quiet of breathing in the intricacies of the world around me and stooping to capture them on film, I sense God’s presence. I cannot see God with my physical eyes. I do look, though. When I am observing as my artist self, I feel like I am doing what I was created to do. When I am seeking out and capturing visual and experiential treasures, they lead me somewhere. They lead me further in my understanding of who I am and who God is for creating my world to be so complex. Big like the stars, the oceans, the roots of all plants everywhere. Dependent on relationships – biological, psychological. That one vein visibly pulsating in my wrist. The breath I just took that I did not consciously orchestrate. I wonder what all the people in all the other rooms of my dorm are doing. Thinking. Is one crying? Is one laughing harder than she ever has? Is one discovering something new? We intersect occasionally. And we are all taking in our world completely differently as artists… in the context of our personal histories, our struggles, our pace.

Yet my world is full of windows, words, passing strangers, and pleasant breezes. Unique from the worlds of my neighbors. God has made each one in His image… and He has made the world to thrive and decay. So many details. I feel like we are all “on to” something. Like a detective on a trail. Traces.

I am following the traces of God I can see with my own eyes – beautiful things. And in doing what I was made to do, as I mature, my spirit is able to see Him more and more clearly.

Even though my acorns seem insignificant (comparatively) – I will continue looking for them. I know they’re leading me closer to Him.