“Take Time” essay

– published in the August issue of the One Thousand Trees magazine. You can read the latest issue here.

TAKE TIME

To look and to perceive takes time.

Taking photographs helps me to slow down, focus and reflect.

I like going for walks on the Bruce Trail. When I see a possible setting for a photograph I have to stop and stand still and take my time.

When I am outside in nature, the light plays a crucial role in the timing of taking a photograph. When the light reveals a potential picture, I receive the opportunity to capture that moment. I use different angles to frame the subject. The more time I spend in one place, the more detail is being revealed. I breathe in, then out, hold my breath and when I am perfectly still, I will finally press the shutter release.

In that moment when the shutter is opened, the light shines in…

Painting with light is a spiritual experience for me. I never know what I will photograph beforehand. I just need to slow down, use all my senses and pay attention to my immediate environment. The light determines what I will notice.

Photography is personal. When I go out with other photographers we invariably do our own thing. We all come home with our own unique take on the world. Over time, with commitment and dedication, a personal style develops. I tend to reference nature to comment on my life. When I look through the photographs that I have accumulated over time, I notice a lot of pictures of flowers in spring and summer. Lately however, I gravitate more towards capturing images of leaves in fall and winter. I seem to have moved from being dazzled by beauty to being more intrigued by character, experience and the cycle of life.

Radiance


Photography is communication without words. It requires the use of all our senses. Opening up to messages requires stillness and the willingness to pay attention and listen.

I used to think that my photographs can show my intended message without an explanation. I have come to realize though, that my view is not necessarily the same as someone else’s. My interpretation of the world will differ from yours. When somebody else looks at my photographs, they will look at them through the lens of their own life experiences. Our thoughts are definitely unique.

Taking the time to translate my photography into words adds a different dimension in the quest to discover meaning. It even helps me understand why I do photography.
I’ve always wanted to be an artist, but despite going to many different types of art classes, I was never really talented enough. Then I read a book called “The Art of Photography” and it seeded the thought of using photography as a means toward that elusive goal. What is art anyway? If I use a creative activity to express “conceptual or imaginative ideas in such a way that the end result can be appreciated for its beauty or emotional power,” then I am working towards it.

The trick is to stay true to who you are. If I lose sight of the reason why I take photographs and try to take the ones that I think others want to see, I will lose authenticity as a person, a photographer as well as an artist.

We are all different and our attention is captured by what we deem important in our lives. I tend to be contemplative in the sense that I am thoughtful and I use photography as part of a meditative process. When I look at my pictures afterwards, I will choose the ones that best capture the moments that speak to me and I will arrange them to convey a story or a message. The goal is to do it in such a way that it will resonate with other people as well.

Take time to slow down, pay attention, stand still and focus. You will be surprised by what will be revealed…