I went for a walk today at the state park. It was a beautiful morning—temperature outside right at 70 degrees (in January, no less!), blue sky, breezy, but not so breezy that I felt as though the wind were pushing me down the road. I was in a thoughtful mood, trying to figure out what I wanted to “say” with my images today. I received an email from David du Chemin, one of my “mentor photographers,” even if he doesn’t know it!, announcing his next project about storytelling in photographs. I has some ideas of things I wanted to look for.
I wanted to explore the idea of openness again since the theme for Adventures in Seeing—The Book is openness. I was also looking for light and shadow and contrasts—and anything else that presented itself to me.
What I found was “divergency.” I thought of Robert Frost’s poem that begins, “Two roads diverged in a wood.” And the idea of divergence as splitting apart into more than one way came to mind. How often do I come upon situations wherein there is more than one way to get to the same point? As an educator, I thought about divergent learners who do not always follow the linear path we teachers set for them. Again, the idea is that there is more than one way to reach the same destination. And, of course, there is the book Divergent, which I must admit I never quite finished. I noticed as I received the images today, that my photographs are definitely “divergent.”
One thing that focusing on the concept of contemplative photography has taught me is that I have to be open to new ways of seeing even when I am seeing the “same old, same old.” I thought about that as I walked through the park. I have walked there regularly for a whole bunch of years, and the road I follow has not moved; the curves are still in the same places. . . . Yet, each time, it is different. The camera helps me see the new things.
“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” – Ansel Adams
And then I saw this “story.” One of the very first poems I found that has stayed with me (besides “Nothing Gold Can Stay”) is Tennyson’s poem, “The Eagle.” I can imagine an eagle sitting in the top of this tree overlooking the lake, waiting for the precise moment to release his talons and dive for his prey.
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.