Week 43: Monday – Photography: One Path to Seeing Oneself (Part 1)

MONDAY“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.”

~ Ernst Haas

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 2 Cor. 13:5

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 1 Cor. 15:10

I am utterly amazed how the photography industry markets their latest brand of hardware (new cameras) almost every four to six months preying on every citizen with promises of making them good photographers just by tweaking this or that camera setting. Adding to that, the easy access to social media providing a platform for self-revelation has never been so straightforward. Well, good for them and good for us. However, there is really more to photography than photography itself, and I will always be in a learning process until the day I expire.
Five years ago, I didn’t care less about learning this artistic craft until a minor event propelled me to become more curious and exploratory. I was in a cozy hotel, 751.4 km away from Manila, nursing a fever and a very painful sore throat; bored and restless. I couldn’t do the job I was tasked to do, plus the pain made me immobile. I can’t believe that a basket of fruits opened up a whole new world of creativity, artistry and learning; a basket of fruits from wonderful people to provide comfort and to accelerate my healing process. I experimented with the oranges; creating shapes and patterns with it right on my comfy bed. Aargh! I was very disappointed with my photographs! Then, comes the pivotal moment…
Close to my heart is sharing how photographs reflect who we are, our thoughts, feelings, and, how we see our world. I do not intend to conduct a workshop right here. But, to share my heart regarding how the craft of photography can reveal so much of our inner lives; one path to seeing oneself.
I enjoy reading Dr. Ellen Rudolph’s essays because it inspires and motivates. She describes the craft with such depth and insight that you would want to immediately pick up your camera and begin a journey of self-exploration. Here are some excerpts…
“The quickness of a shutter-release button probably fools many into thinking that their artistry evolves equally as quickly, but it doesn’t. As we mature as individuals we also mature as artists and professionals. The aging process and living life fully informs us as well as our work. They go hand in hand.
There is clearly more to photography than photography and it has to do with how rich and complex we are as individuals. Everything else follows.
A soulful singer combines flowing melodies and poignant lyrics to touch us. A soulful writer tantalizes us with verbal strings of intensely felt emotions. A soulful musician is one who breathes life into their notes in a way that makes listeners feel the river flowing through them. All of them take us into a world of inspiration and lift our consciousness.
The soulful artist is driven to do what they do for more lofty reasons. They are driven. They live and breathe their creative inclinations. They often inhabit stratas of intense aloneness. They lay sleepless at night listening to the blood pulsating through their veins simply because they live in a feeling state where they have learned to feel everything. They notice everything. They pick up on rhythms and nuances, and patterns that escape others. They seek kindred spirits to connect with and, if none, then so be it.
The moods they create mirror their persona and reflect how they live, how they think. Their subjects are self-revealing. They are at once the story and story-teller and the universe in which it all unfolds. They work and kneed and wrestle and agonize until their authentic self emerges victoriously in some form of artful communication. Only then do they put wings to a song or to words, or click the shutter button.

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