to keep or not to keep

One summer evening, I was laying in my bed, half asleep, when I heard raging, accumulating, and approaching sirens. I emerged from my apartment to find a towering blaze across the street. The flames reached 4 stories into the air, devouring an under-renovation night club. Power lines were exploding, the smoky night air was slashed in every direction by emergency vehicle lights. The air was thick with pungent smoke that confessed what the flames had just digested… old insulation, aged timber, tar and shingles. Rather than run inside for my good camera, I settled for a crude snapshot on my junky camera phone… then found a comfortable spot in which to soak up the heat and energy of the situation.

The incredulous questioning of my friends as to why I did not fully document the situation spurred me to thinking more about motives.

It has taken a few months, but the question has now taken form:
Why is it, that when we encounter something beautiful, we feel inclined to keep it?

Pictures… cages… wedding rings… all seem like attempts to capture and keep the beautiful things we find along the path of life.

“Taking pictures is savoring live intensely – every hundredth of a second” – Marc Riboud

Photography has given me many gifts, but among them… I see beauty all around me now. I feel a deep resonance and harmony when I see the rich green of treetops contrasted against the joyous blue of a cloudless summer day. Rusty bolts are expressionistic art, co-created by mother nature and man. In the face of the homeless man, I see God.

That being said, it’s almost second nature to reach for the camera upon encountering such beauty.

Lately I’ve started to find that, though the camera was an almost sacred master in teaching us such lessons… there comes a time when it becomes a hindrance.

For instance – the RUSH Snakes & Arrows tour. I snuck a camera into the concert. It was a small point & shoot with a bit of a zoom lens on it… I was determined to capture some great images of the show, even if from the lawn seats. The technical limitations of that little camera were too much for the inherently almost impossible shooting conditions of concerts… but that did not stop me from trying. I experienced far too much of that show through a 2″ LCD viewfinder screen. In retrospect, I wish that I had just put the camera away, and basked in the light, sound, and soul stiring energy that is a RUSH show.

In trying to capture the experience, I lost it.

Each moment we are exposed to deserves some kind of preservation.

The capture medium… that is the question:

Soul or film?

1 comment
  1. The impulse to hold and collect impressions only gets in the way when, like you, I fail to put it away when experience is asking for directness. Otherwise my being focuses on the minute sidestepped, and I’m grateful for that. When it’s only a filter by which I see.

Leave a Reply

You May Also Like