Food and a Photo for Thought

My Sunday morning began in a bit of a rush to get out the door in order to snap a few shots of the sunrise over the water in Beverly. Since my starting photo class at school, I’ve been a camera fanatic, and I took advantage of this weekend to learn some things about speaking through your photos.

My dad photographs with the knowledge of a professional, in my opinion, but it’s always been a hobby for him. He was putting up with my amateur questions about how to get the best picture possible all weekend, and he threw out the idea of setting up a dark room in the basement. I was thrilled, as you could probably guess.

We drove down to Hunt’s Photo & Video in Melrose to look into this possible idea, and I’m sure 30 minutes seemed like 30 days to him as I peppered the air with: “Oooohhhh look at this one!” or “Do you see this??!!” while looking through a photography book filled with macro photos of vibrant flowers and sunsets over places I could only dream about.

The trip ended with a big smile on my face, mainly because we did end up buying the necessary equipment for a dark room, and at a fairly reasonable price, if I do say so myself.

That night, Dad asked if I’d like to get in some time photographing so we could experiment with aperture, focus, film, and all the basics. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity.

And so I was woken up, per my request, at 7:00 am. Yikes! We drove down to the beach to catch the sunrise, mist lifting off the water, or any other natural phenomena we might have missed if we hadn’t been looking through a lens.

It turned out to be a pretty successful expedition, in terms of pictures taken, and lessons learned. However, the dark room isn’t completely set up yet, so we had to take the film back to Hunt’s to get it developed. I can’t wait to see how the pictures come out, considering they’ll all be in black in white.

Tonight at Prep for Life (a church group that paves the way for high school students to have a relationship with God), Larry asked me why I liked photographing in black and white. What I didn’t know before-hand was Larry is an experienced photographer. So as sixteen eyes of my eight group mates stared back at me in the classroom, I found myself grasping for any words that could explain why I enjoy photography; a career I might want to pursue when I get older.

My answer was the following: “Well, I like telling a story through photos. You have to work hard at it, especially if it’s black and white because you don’t have any colors to work with so you’re turning a disadvantage into an advantage.” At least, that’s what I meant to say. I’m sure it sounded much less thought out and very put-on-the-spot. But that’s the jist of it.

This makes wonder: How often are we asked, by ourselves or by anyone else, why we do what we do? And even more interesting, how often do we take the time to answer?

I think my answer to why I like photographing in black in white says a lot about me. Telling stories, turning disadvantages into advantages. I know the world is never black and white, there’s always a gray area. But as Atticus Finch says in To Kill A Mockingbird, “If you take away the adjectives you have the facts.” Well, if you take the color out of a photograph, you see an unbiased image, free for your interpretation.

And so I end this post, not with my more thought-out answer to why I like black-and-white photography. But a challenge. I’m challenging all of you as of right now to think about why it is you do the things you do. If no one’s ever asked you before, I’m the one asking you now. There’s probably never a definite answer to every “Why?” in life, but it’s most definitely food for thought. Not like a ballpark frank that you can eat up before the ump says “You’reeeee outttt!!!” More like popcorn kernels that get stuck to your teeth in the movie theater; something that’s going to stay with you for a while. (Sorry for the mental imagery there 😉 )

Thank God for Larry, the one who always seems to make me think every time I talk to him.

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3 responses to “Food and a Photo for Thought

  1. Nice post, Mandi… and I like your conclusion that B&W is more of a challenge.

    And here’s my answer to “Why” I do what I do: I’m really not good at anything else. Does that sound lame? I don’t think so: What I mean is, it’s the only thing that’s in my bones.

  2. Very descriptive, also most thought-provoking. That dollar bill has certainly done its symbolic job in your hands, Miss granddaughter!

    And I may know more about photography than I do now before we’re through.

    Grandma, Grandpa

  3. What a great posting. Very thought-provoking as well. So I’m going to completely dodge your challenge (only for now – I have no answers yet!) and pass along a couple of un-original observations about photography.

    The first is that what make photography so special to me it captures a unique moment in the relationship between the viewer and the viewed. It may have been Ansel Adams who said that sometimes he got to places just when God was ready for him to click the shutter, and that just about covers it.

    And the quip I remember from a black and white exhibition in New York was that Color photos remember the color of someone’s clothing; black and white remembers their souls.

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