A while back, the good folks over at local multimedia company Build Films asked me to write a piece for them about the power of photography. This is the published article, crossposted here to my own website for your own reading:
Here at base camp, the waterfalls are running thinner than I’ve ever seen them; the glaciers above that feed them are returning to their frozen state. The unseasonably warm sun of a few days previous has relinquished control to winter’s first snowfall, and won’t return in strength for many months to come. We stoke the fire in the drafty, but still much appreciated, shelter a little ways from our tent to warm our bones and dry the clothes on our backs; clothes which we also slept in the night before for extra warmth. These memories and more are triggered when I look back on this photograph of a moment I otherwise might not remember so clearly.
There is a deep power in a photograph’s ability to freeze time and bear witness to life’s fleeting moments as they arise and pass. For me, this act of seeing is an extension of my awareness practice: noticing moments that will never exactly happen as they are again, capturing them as seen through my eye, and sharing them with others in hopes that they might glimpse what I see too.
Nothing in life is static. Things constantly shift through the sands of time; complex interactions coming together in beautiful harmony in a way that will never exist again. With a camera we can capture a moment as we see it, and use the resulting photographs as a form of expression to share our unique view of the world with others.
Think about a time when you were in a crowd of people who all raised their cameras at the same time to take a photograph. Perhaps that moment was on a popular trail, at someone’s wedding celebration, or when a particularly brilliant sunset broke through the clouds. In each of these cases I am willing to bet that everyone’s resulting photographs were very different, and I for one appreciate seeing all these perspectives beyond my own.
A camera is a tool and we all wield it differently. The photographs it produces are a result of our unique selves mixed with the expression possible that comes with pursuing mastery of the tool itself. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I daresay a picture can go further than that and express something which words cannot.