Why Photography Matters – Essay Part 4

More wondering down the why photographs matter road for this week. Starting this essay has been an eye opener into a universe of great unknowns. I find myself wondering why from a third person perspective. That is a mistake. Art should never be about what someone else thinks. It is a highly personal and creative journey in which many experiences are drawn from, contemplated, and attempted to be rationalized in a meaningful way. The rationalizing seems to be the difficult part. There is nothing irrational about art but preconceptions creep into the psyche clouding thoughts and ideas. For this reason art remains a mysterious thing as we make our way up the road of life.

I experienced a bit of this a few days ago as I ventured out to a nearby lake in the late afternoon hours. Thinking of colorful sunsets reflecting off the water making for a wonderful photograph that I had already visualized in my minds eye. As I made my way around the rocky shoreline looking over the water and towards the setting sun, I had to be aware of my steps as the rocks along the way were somewhat tricky to navigate. As I slowly walked over the rocks some small some large one caught my eye. There was added visual interest to this rock. About 12 inches in length and six or so inches wide it was holding a small puddle of water. The water wasn’t the main appeal but on the edge of the water was a small white feather and opposite it was a smaller dark feather. All I said was, “well that’s kind of cool”. Without anymore personal conversation I set the tripod up and began capturing this small scene.

I spent  10 minutes or so attempting to capture this little scene that for all practice reasons was no different than the vast array of scattered rocks along the entire shoreline. But something was different about it compared to the rocks right next to it. Was the difference all that much? Not really. Did it stand out like the setting sun against the distant horizon? No. Then what was it? It was that little difference that seemed to make it matter. It was the “why” in “why photographs matter”. Known only to me at that time but not in a way that is easily describable.

I mentioned in the first part of this essay that I would share images along with the experiences and my attempts to examine these questions. I tried to make it clear that this essay was not about the pictures I would share. I have now spent most of this entry concentrating on this one image and my experience with it. It is still evident to me this is not about the picture of a rock with a puddle and a couple of feathers. What it is about is a willingness to see something slightly different and the ability to ask more questions as to why this has a different meaning than other very similar things.

We must be willing to open our minds as well as our eyes to all possibilities and when one speaks to us in it’s ever so soft voice it may very well benefit us to pay attention to what it has to say.

Stone Pursuit

© Brad Mangas