Wednesday, October 19, 2005


There is no right way to take a photograph. There is only how we see a particular scene at a particular moment and whether we can record that on film, or “magnetic media,” in a way that allows someone else to see something of what we saw. Some photographs are “alive.” Others are not. What’s the “magic” that is there, or not there? The magical elements are subject, composition, lighting, exposure, focus, and the eye, the soul, of the photographer who brings these elements together in a way that produces “aesthetic arrest,” stopping those who view the photo in their tracks, forcing them to look again, taken in by what is “there.”

We cannot very well hope to take a photo that “grabs” those who see the photo if we are not “grabbed” by the scene we are photographing. We cannot communicate the power of an emotion that isn’t there, that didn’t exist at the time the shutter was released. We cannot do anything for a scene that doesn’t do anything for us. We have to experience the power of a scene if our viewers are to have a chance at experiencing that power. If there is nothing there for us, there will be nothing there for them, no matter how expensive our equipment is.

The task is to place ourselves in scenes that open us to the heart of beauty, goodness, wonder, awe, amazement, delight, and the like—that reveal to us, that expose for us, the truth of “more than we can ask, or think, or imagine.” Photographs that “work” convey a sense of the mystery, of the more, of the depth and wonder of life. The work of photography is seeing these things so that we might show them to others.

We can’t do anything with a scene that doesn’t do anything for us. Finding the scenes that impact us is the photographic task. To be touched by a scene is the essential ingredient of a successful photograph. If we aren’t “arrested,” we can’t expect others to be. And, we can practice seeing scenes every day, all the time, without a camera in hand. Photography is the art of seeing the world. We can’t see if we don’t practice. Constantly. It takes a lot of looking to be able to see.
We only need enough money to do what we love. Poverty isn’t about a lack of money so much as no idea about what we love. We love money as a substitute, as a surrogate, love object. We don’t know what else to love. Once we know what we love, we will find enough money to do it. We are living to find what we love and do it. The spiritual journey is to the heart of who we are, what we love. How does what we have help us do what we love? How will the acquisition of what we want help us do what we love? What exactly do we need in order to do what we love?

We think it is about prosperity. With enough money our worries will be over and we can give ourselves to the experience of enjoying life. That is the most stupid premise ever devised. There is no connection whatsoever between money and an end to worry, between money and happiness, between money and enjoying life. We only need enough money to do what we love. When we don’t know what we love, we need a lot of money to distract ourselves from the emptiness within, to take our minds off the fact that we don’t know what we love, that we don’t have anything worth our time, that we have no reason to get up in the morning. The spiritual journey is for a reason to get up in the morning. The spiritual quest is for what we love.

No comments: