Saturday, September 29, 2012

Illuminate: Gratitude

From the moment I read this assignment, I knew I would hate it. 

I don't have a fancy camera. I don't have a photographer's vision. I don't understand photography tricks or techniques. I take pictures of things that interest me, that create symbolism, that make me feel creative and artistic.

I went on a walk with my camera and took 100 steps, as I was told. I didn't see anything I wanted to take a picture of. Besides that, I was still in my neighborhood and felt self-conscious about what the neighbors would be thinking of me aiming my camera at random things. I cheated. I didn't take a picture. I took another 100 steps, didn't find anything interesting in where I stopped, didn't take a picture, and took another 100 steps. I didn't like that spot either. I decided to wait until I was across the street at a campus that had sculptures and gardens. I waited until I saw things in the distance that look photo-worthy and took another 100 steps. How was I supposed to make this patch of grass look interesting? There's a bed of flowers over there, I'll take a picture of that. None of these things moved me. I wanted to take a picture of what I wanted to take a picture of. I became frustrated with the assignment.

I knew I was missing the point. I understood the assignment was about finding something interesting/creative/artistic/beautiful/whatever in wherever I was at that moment. 

I eventually gave in and took a picture or two with every 100 steps. I wasn't satisfied with the pictures, though. They weren't interesting. They weren't what I wanted to take pictures of. I wanted to go over there and take a picture of that interesting thing. I tried doing the assignment again a few nights later. The sun was setting. I was grateful to be out for a walk after I had given up that I'd get in exercise that day. The air was crisp. The leaves were bright colors against the darkening sky. I walked. I took pictures with every 100 steps. I started to get interested in what I was doing. I found something to take a picture of. Even though sometimes I headed in a particular direction because I wanted my 100 steps to end there. I got a little frustrated at times when I took a picture I thought was terrible. I kept going. I realized that I was noticing more. I'm usually pretty observant, but I'm also usually deeply in thought. I noticed the red tips on the cactus plant. I saw the varying sized rocks scattered among the flowers. I saw the blues and purples and pinks of the pansies nestled under a tree. As I was heading home, I looked in the sky and saw how beautiful the moon was. It was stunning. It was shrouded in some fog, but bright, so bright. I took a picture every 20 or so steps as I got closer. The image never looked in the camera as amazing as it did with my naked eye. I got frustrated that I couldn't capture what I was seeing with my camera. I was discouraged that I didn't have a better camera that could get a closer shot. I fiddled with the settings on my point and shoot, all of which I've never used, having not strayed from the "automatic" setting. The pictures came out blurry and dark. They weren't capturing what I was seeing.

But, they were my pictures. They were images that nobody else will ever take again. The moon was still beautiful. The sky was still amazing. The trees were still lovely. There were many things to be thankful for. I was happy to have feet that could take me on that walk, to live in a neighborhood where these flowers and trees were flourishing, to live across the street from a company campus that welcomes visitors to walk their grounds any time. I was happy to have a husband and son waiting at home for me who would be happy to see me, to have a healthy hot meal to eat, to have a cat who had survived surgery earlier that day, to have a home I loved to go back to, to have friends who loved me and family who cherished me. And, truth be told, I was also happy to finish this assignment.


Chirleen said...

Your photos are beautiful! I absolutely LOVE the flowers at the top - deserty flowers?? The lighting is super cool on them.

And I love how honest you were about your frustrations with this assignment. =] In the end, it made for a beautiful journey with some really beautiful photos!

Reese's mama said...

Cynthia - As always, I love you for your honesty! I loved how you portrayed your growth in your post, and I think you got some great pictures! It was a difficult assignment for me at times, too - I hate not being in control! Like you, I didn't get the shots I wanted, but they were still great shots. I smiled the entire time I read your last paragraph, and I felt your gratitude.

Beryl said...

This post brought me to tears. Because it took me right back to the place when Bella died. That walk where you finally 'gave in' and tried to find the beauty -- that was my own walk 3 years ago. The air was crisp, I was a wreck, but I forced myself out into the fresh air, forced myself to try to live, forced myself to find beauty in anything I could. I remember plucking some leaves off the trees and lifting them to the sun. I wanted to capture a sunburst with my camera but photo after photo didn't turn out how I wanted it to look. But you are SO right, those images are ones you captured, that no one can capture every again. I can see the beauty of that moon light in your image. It might not look as it did when you looked up in to the sky and saw those incredible colors in the sky, but I can imagine through that photo just how lovely it was. xo.

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