I have long subscribed to the belief that efficiency is the greater purpose in life: checking off several to-do items in a given day brings utmost satisfaction. And with the Smart phone, I can not only organize my calendar and tasks, but I can also take and edit pictures, create and share documents, and keep up with the latest news. I have all the information I need in the palm of my hand, as I am rushing from one event to another forever looking down to check the latest status update.
Photography demands a different mindset.
- Photography asks me to stop and consider the shot.
- Photography begs me to slow down and look at my routine environment in an entirely new way.
- Photography suggests I consider multiple perspectives and not just the one that is fastest and most convenient.
- Photography mandates that I reduce my sprint to a dawdle, that I stop focusing on the end destination and instead enjoy the journey itself.
- Photography forces me to look up from that hand-held device to which I have been tethered and notice what is directly in front of me, above me, beneath me, and within me.
Of course, I continue to use my camera in my old familiar way, taking snapshots of the significant events in life, like birthday celebrations, holiday gatherings and special vacations. At these times, the fear of missing the shot demands a more spontaneous action. I typically preset controls so that I can aim and shoot at will. But this is not when I experience that spiritual connection with photography.
Spiritual photography occurs when I pick up my camera with the expressed purpose of connecting with the world in an intimate way. Whether it be exploring the familiar landscape outside my backdoor, or a new adventure several miles away, I seek to use the camera to help me find meaning in life; I begin to cultivate a relationship with nature in order to know myself better.
This necessitates that I leave the demands of the daily schedule behind, something that is surprisingly easier said than done. But I am determined to break free of worldly worries and instead learn to appreciate the abundant blessings that are all around. Slowly but surely photography is teaching me to find joy in the moment, beauty in the mundane and peace in the hectic pace of life.
Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? (Jeremiah 2:25 – The Message)