Looking at this photo as I was preparing this post, I had a realization. I can honestly confess that:
Sometimes what I experience when looking at one of my finished photos is way more awesome than the one I had taking it.
There. I said it.
It’s true for this photo…
3 Truths in 1
This is not the beginning of a complaint! Oh no, not by a long shot.
Truth #1: I love the outdoors. I love sunsets more than words can say. I love fresh air, walking, hiking – the whole earthy, “bring it on” experience. And I loved those things on this day too.
Truth #2: (which makes the above no less true): taking this photo meant experiencing things I don’t love as much: sliding over rocks that were slipperier than snot. My camera backpack making me feel like I was tightrope walking with a child on my back, instead of dancing lightly with catlike grace. The salt air making my hands sticky, so handling my gear without smudging lenses nearly impossible. Sand EVERYWHERE!
Some of this makes for a good story, which is never a bad thing.
Truth #3: (which likewise make the above no less true) When I LOOK at this image and let myself sink into it; it goes to a whole other place. It’s more romantic, more restorative, drawing deeper upon my imagination. I can feel the warmth of the sun, imagine the soothing sounds of the gentle surf. The misty water makes me feel dreamy, the warm colors soothe me, I go to a place where my consciousness expands and I get better ideas… have wonderful feelings… and come back more refreshed.
The Experience vs. The Vision
The truth of the moment was that the surf wasn’t all that gentle, in fact it was rough that day and boomed loudly in startling ways. The sun wasn’t all that warm, the water wasn’t all that misty… and in fact, every 7th wave would have been just as happy to suck me out to sea.
I know, I know, it’s all part of being a photographer. No arguments here!
But in looking at this image just now, I remember what it was like taking the picture… which is so incredibly different from how I feel now looking at it.
We artsy types of photographers often speak eloquently of the joy found in creating an image that contains “the feeling we had when standing there”.
But frankly, I didn’t want to re-create how the feeling I had when standing there. I mean, I could see the finished image in my mind – that was awesome. But mostly what I felt in the moment was grateful I was that I didn’t fall and break something, frustrated that I had to keep using rags to clean my hands so I could touch my gear without smudging my lenses, nor the annoyance I felt when I discovered I’d accidentally kicked sand into my camera bag.
Instead, I wanted to create the spin my imagination put on the whole experience. What it WOULD have been, had I actually been in that sci-fi fantasy world that my fanciful side often takes me to. I could see it so clearly that night in my mind’s eye, even as I dodged every 7th wave in this world.
Therein Lies the Point
And therein lies my point about the true beauty of art: It lets us dream. It lets us journey to a more beautiful place where our souls can inform us of who we really are, what we really seek and what truly makes us happy. We need that, now more than ever. And if ever I had a point to make about anything… it’s the one about Dreaming Your Best Creation. Of course, no dream is complete without action… so then follow it! See it, feel it, create it. It’s like practice for creating the life of your dreams.
Today’s a good day to start, in case you were wondering. 😀