Viewfinder Evolution

I allowed twenty-something years in IT to turn me into a harpy, screeching and bringing ill will to those that had stifled my creative darlings. I wanted out so that I  could live with myself and stop tormenting the people around me. So, while expecting the birth of my beloved niece #2, I decided on an exit strategy.

I know what you’re thinking. What the hell could one have to do with the other? Goooood question.

My younger sister complains frequently that there are few pictures of her as a child. I went back through the paltry collection of pictures my parents had and realized that she is right. Film and developing were expensive and our parents weren’t wealthy or compelled to record the “every day.” I was determined to change that. Driven by an irrational fear of obscurity and a sudden awareness of my own mortality, I began recording the history of my family. The night before my niece was scheduled to appear, I bought my first SLR. 

It didn’t take much skill to simply record the events. I wasn’t yet aware of what I didn’t know about photography. But over time, I started to perceive the immaturity in my images, then suddenly impact became an important factor. I committed to learning the art of photography. I invested in the proper tools for the job. I taught myself how to consistently and purposefully create the style I wanted, and finally I had a new career. I had a reason to leave IT behind and satisfy the suffocating creative in my head. Photography is the most technical of the arts and therefore an easy and logical transition for someone who has specialized in technology for half her life.

But the technology isn’t everything. Any experienced photographer will tell you that you have to try each genre to know if you want to specialize. I did exactly that and over thirteen years, I have learned a great deal more than just proper exposure. But of all the things I learned, the most important was how to see.

That’s right. You can point your camera a hundred times and not see what is right in front of you. And for a while, I found that I was missing important details. An evolution occurred. Over time, the world became clearer and clearer as though I was washing away film on a windshield. I saw the relationship between light and shadows, the different shades of colors, shapes, sizes, geometry, perspective, but most of all, I saw beauty.

It was subtle at first. When shooting portraits, I’d study my subjects’ faces and see that they had lovely eyes, or a bright smile. Then, as I began to shoot nudes, I noticed the slope of a hip or long, graceful fingers. In the last year, it has become a new habit to search faces, but I’m not looking for physical features alone. I’ve learned to see light, in both a physical and a philosophical sense. Everyone is capable of light, and when I can pull it out of them, it shows in the final image.

I am currently experiencing an even more powerful evolution in my photography. I’m focused more on elevating my subjects as art. My search for beauty in people makes me long to capture them in a way that illustrates what I now see.

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