This month is interNational Photography month! Here, we will be playing with this theme on Wednesdays during May. I will be focusing on where the practice of photography intersects with our own experience and expression of the divine--where photography draws us into a new experience of the divine.
In my journey with photography, I have become more aware of light. The presence of light, the absence of light, how it causes reflection, my friend, Paul Jeffrey, told us once that he always turns the flash off, taking advantage of natural light. (I’m sure the rule is “almost always.”) I find that in photographing nature, that I try to stick to that rule and rely on photo-editing software to help me out if I need it. He also taught us how to make a faux tripod to steady ourselves when our shutter speed is taking just a little bit too long.
Light glorifies everything. It transforms and ennobles the most commonplace and ordinary subjects. The object is nothing, light is everything - Leonard Misone
Light is a dominant theme in religious traditions also.
- Christianity: “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5),
- Islam: “Knowledge makes you free from the chains of ignorance, and revives your heart, knowledge takes you out from the darkness of suspicions and superstitions, and gives a new light to your eyes. (Hazrat Abu Ali Saqfi)
- Judaism: “I will say to the prisoners, ‘Go free!’ and to those who are in darkness, ‘Come out to the light!’ (Isaiah 49:9)
- Buddhism: “Doubt everything. Find your own light.” (Gautama Buddha)
- Hinduism: “One who kindles the light of awareness within gets true light.” (Unattributed)
- Baha’i: “Grant that the light of unity may envelop the whole earth.” (Bahá’u’lláh)
The general thrust is that light is a metaphor for that which brings us to a higher consciousness or awareness, provides hope, guidance, and love. It is a beautiful thing when, through appropriate use of light, we can communicate a deeper exploration of these qualities—awareness of what is unseen, hope, love, beauty—a very real reflection of life. And sometimes, light lets you see something in a different way.
My favorite picture that I’ve ever taken of one of my children captures light and it seems, to me, to convey innocence and an essential quality of “child” that is so easy to forget. This is an old photo, by the way! And the picture isn’t perfect, but it still conveys a lightness of being that transcends the particular quality of the photo.
How do the following pictures and their use of light point to something beyond the images captured in the photo?
What do thoughts of light lead you to? Do you have a favorite photo that features light or the absence of light? Can you look at the photo and see that it points towards something beyond our human experience?
Shalom and Amen!
Post by Terri Stewart, 2014
Photography, CC License (CC BY-NC)