Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why I photograph

I've been rereading Galen Rowell's book Inner Game of Outdoor Photography.

His first words: "If photography was limited to what Daguerre described when he introduced it to the world in 1839–'a process that gives Nature the ability to reproduce herself that enables anyone to take the most detailed views in a few minutes'–this book would never have been written. A technical instruction manual for your camera would be all you'd need to replicate the world before your eyes. But photographic images don't do that. They are visual illusions that trick our senses into believing that the images represent the way the eye would see a real scene."

Visual illusions for the eye.

That's been my guide post in creating photography, including commercial, stock and fine art images. Mixed in there somewhere is a requirement to make beautiful images.

Last night at a Bible study group, one person–a left-brained accountant–mentioned that in her recent graduate class each person was given a chunk of clay. From that lump they were to create an image of their spiritual life at that moment. The assignment shook her orderly line-up-the-columns being to the core.

That assignment also shook me, supposedly a creative type.

Driving home, the account's story was like cold water on my sleeping face. It awakened some
hibernating part of my being. Like a windy storm, it shook the very guideposts I use every day to create my visual-illusions-for-the-eye photographs.

But what was this upsetting storm?

"Why create
illusions/images just for the eye?" I thought out loud. Perhaps I'm not spending enough time creating visual illusions for my inner life, my own spiritual life. What would that look like? What a refreshing path. But where are the guide posts?

The only time I really tried that path was with the Africa Undiscovered Myths Project– a look at the spiritual lives of remote African tribes. What about my own inner life?

Dugh! I need to be working on my own Inner Game of Vineyard Photography. Is there a book there?

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