Camera, Compass

Do those two strike you as completely different things?  They may look different, perhaps.  They may operate in distinct ways.  But for me, the camera has become my compass.

It’s a funny thing, photography.  On one level, it’s very simple.  Just point the camera at something and hit the button, right?  But what you point it at, and why, that’s where it starts to get interesting.  What made you pick up the camera at all, largely determines what kind of photo you end up with.  If it’s the way light hits the leaves outside your window in the morning, you’ll likely play with aperture.  If it’s the fineness of the hairs around your dog’s nose, you’ll want to learn how to use manual focus.  And if you really don’t know what that mysterious something is, you’ll have to take a whole lot of mediocre shots of nothing in particular.  Eventually, you’ll get so dissatisfied with “okay” photos, you’ll want to start figuring out what can make them great.

Trust me, I know.  That was me.  For a long time I expected to somehow get great photos without any clear idea of what they ought to be photos of.  No matter how sophisticated and amazing a device it is, a camera isn’t magic.  Or rather, the magic has to start before you hit the shutter.  If you don’t know what you want to say, a little electronic sensor isn’t going to say it for you.

Through some happy synchronicity, and a lot of exasperation, I decided I wanted to do more.  More than that, I realized what a gift had been bestowed on me, and how I was blundering around not really knowing what I had, what I could do with it.

So this is the beginning of a new kind of journey.  Maybe those vague concepts floating around my brain need to be brought down to earth a little.  Words are a gift too.  Try to put something in writing, and you find it’s not quite so easy as it first seems.  The fluff gets blown away, and what’s really there underneath may end up being nothing like what you set out to say.

I firmly believe each of us has a True North, and to reach it we must follow that persistent, soul-deep pull of what we love.  I hope this blog will be part of my journey, through photography and writing, to live from that Center.  May we all find what is truly important, in the call of our hearts, and in daily life where little details wait like a trail of breadcrumbs.

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