A Lesson in Seeing

A Lesson in Seeing

Today I did not have a blog post on my growing list of things to accomplish. I need to finish redesigning my new business cards, write an email to a painter who recently told me was copying my photographs and contact the US Copyright office about a glitch with my last set of photographs sent in for that added copyright protection.

Most afternoons I choose to take a 10-15 minute power nap. It helps me get through the day (I often struggle with sleep at night) and also a chance to just relax and breathe. As part of my relaxing routine I’ve been reading a chapter out of my newly acquired book More Than a Rock by Guy Tal.

Amy Lehman and William Neil, two photographers whom I deeply admire and appreciate, have referenced Guy’s writings and artistic views. Guy’s new book recently came out and I pre-ordered a copy. Being a somewhat orderly person that I am, I decided to buy his first book as well and start with that.

Guy’s writings have been such a source of fresh air among the overwhelming drain of screaming photographers. The screaming photographers, to me, are those who are so focused on technical perfection whilst wielding this delightful machine. They are the ones most concerned by every detail in how to make the photograph.

I learned from the screaming photographers and while knowing how to use a camera is vital to photography, so is the creative process that often gets overlooked in the midst of striving for technical perfection.

I have been exhausted and sometimes want to just hang it all up.

Keeping up with the Jones’ while being a mom, home-schooler and rancher’s wife has left me feeling raw (no pun intended) and drained. I’ll never compete. I’ll never measure up to the “professional” landscape photographer.

Guy’s writings have refreshed me for two reasons: 1) he spends more of his time in a 150 mile radius of his home. He desires to really know his own landscape. That has been a desire of mine and I often feel pressured to go beyond my state and travel-that I won’t really make it in this business if I don’t. Not true. 2) His focus is not on the technical, but on the heart, the meaning, the quiet desperation of the soul as it searches for beauty, emotion and experience.

As I read this book and contemplate my role in photography, a sense of longing sparks. That longing seeks stillness in the chaos, to see and delight in the light or the colors or the sway of the grass. My want in the art that I create with this medium called photography is to instill emotions, fellowship in experience and delight in the One who made us all.

“Art should be about creative expression of subject ideas and sensibilities, in whatever media and by whatever methods. Whether the tool is a paintbrush, a chisel, a camera, or a computer program should have no bearing on the validity of artistic work. Neither should the process involved in the production of art dictate its worthiness. A photograph rendered on film is no more or less worthy than one captured digitally, just as a novel written on paper is no more or less worthy, by this one distinction, than one typed into a word processor.”

Guy Tal, No Lesser An Art in More Than A Rock

Often at art shows I feel cornered with the questions: What kind of camera do you use? Are these real or Photoshop?

The better question to ask is why did I felt compelled to photograph said subject? This has been asked of me only once and it was a teenage girl, not another photographer or an art expert.

The point isn’t about whether the photograph was created with traditional methods or contemporary.

The point is celebrating the moment and finding joy.

True joy, as I have discovered, is in the presence of the One who gave us eyes to see, ears to hear and the ability to taste and feel the world around us.

Illusion, September 2020

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Colin

    Hi Cristen,
    Here is some food for thought regarding photography: A photo is a beautiful moment captured in the present, to view in the future, of the past

    1. Cristen

      That’s beautifully worded, Colin! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

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