Just a picture indeed. Often times … no, let me rephrase that … most of the time, when I’m heading out to shoot some photographs, I go by myself. It’s not that I always prefer to go alone, but it’s hard to find folks who are willing to get up before the sun and spend the day watching the same thing for hours as the light changes, hardens, softens, highlights and clarifies. When by chance someone does want to go along “for the adventure of it”, after about an hour, they’re done. Too many times to count I’ve heard the words “how many pictures do you need?” There is no harm or malice in those words, simply a lack of understanding of what it means to be a photographer in love with light. To most people, light is just the opposite of dark, makes it easier to see, comes in the morning and leaves at night; they cannot fathom that it is oh so much more.
Light has many moods, influenced by many things, but there are a couple times of day that I can count on finding amazingness . These are the golden hours or, as they are sometimes called, the magic hours. These are the first and last hour of sunlight in a day (though they are more in tune with the golden 30 minutes) and they are pivotal times for a photographer. The light is low and soft and depending on the weather, can manifest in a variety of ways that couldn’t be captured in a lifetime. That is the reason another question always comes up. “Why do you have to get up so early?” or “why would you want to be there so late?” I have a simple answer; because I am a photographer. I chase the light, gauge it, study it and try to gain intimate knowledge so that I can, in my weak, mortal way, capture it before it changes.
I don’t go to a place to take a picture or a snapshot, I go to shoot it. Maybe the first photograph will nail it or it may take hours or even days, going to the same place, watching the same thing, knowing that if I keep up the vigil, I will be rewarded. These are the kinds of things that my friends and family balk about and why I usually ending up going alone. But it’s not their fault. They don’t eat, live, breath, sleep and dream photography. They don’t look around them and see a hundred things that draw their attention. They don’t feel the Spirit of God instilling in them the need and desire to photograph that which He has made. Nothing wrong with that. That is one of the things that sets me apart from them. It makes me different or as they like to refer to it, weird, geeky or odd; probably some other stuff, too, but all along the same vein.
Understanding the language of light is to a photographer like understanding the concept of music is to a pianist. Without understanding, there can only be frustration. I have spent years studying the art of photography. Maybe I could have made it easier on myself by taking classes, but I wanted to learn it for myself; to see what worked for me and, as the years pass, start to see a style of my own emerge. And that is why I get up so early and stay so late and why i will continue to do so because the language of light is one of the beautiful ones that I know.
Psalms 19:1 ~ To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.