For the past week, I have felt this intense need to look at photographs. I don’t mean to look at photographs-in-the-making, those being exposed; I mean to look at photographs that are printed images.
Truth is, I haven’t been out with my camera for awhile, so mining my old files, looking at photographs made by me or someone else that inspires me is the next best thing.
To see them with expanded awareness—Minor White’s approach to seeing, which is akin to meditation or “being still with yourself”—is a way for me to stay sane in the face of my growing apprehension about some health issues. Even though it’s hard to relax into a soft focus when I’m anxious, if I can bring myself to a heightened state of awareness, and look at images from that place, my vision is as creative as the act of making the image in the first place.
Reading poetry, like looking at photographs, can change you.
This poem by Jane Hirshfield comes to mind:
Even in this bad year,
the apples grow heavy and round.
Three friends and I trade stories:
biopsy, miscarriage, solitude,
a parent’s unravelling body or mind.
What is reliable? What do you hold?
I demand of the future, later.
The future–whose discretion is perfect–
says nothing, but rolls another
apple loose from its grip.
A hopeful yellow jacket comes to hunt
the crack, the point of easy entry.
© Jane Hirshfield, from After