Sunday, 23 October 2011

Who are you . . . ?

Although I love photography, I must admit a certain hesitation when photographing people. I have more than a degree of sympathy for those from less technological cultures, who sense that to take a photograph is to steal a soul. Thus I rarely photograph anyone except people I have come to know well, mainly family members. I think of the great portrait photographers and their work and always it reveals something that goes beyond the casual snapshot. They have spent time with their subject and the photograph reveals something of their Essence, their soul captured.

This morning, I noticed some Silvereyes enjoying the fruit on a bird table in the garden. These small and delightfully marked birds are native to New Zealand and new to me, and the light being good I rushed to get my camera and fit the telephoto lens, but first the presence of the cat and then my own lack of composure scared them off and I was left to wait.

I learnt a little about photography whilst waiting, taking time to test a variety of aperture settings  - but then more importantly being present and attentive. Usually when I am out with my camera, there is a certain anxiety about getting a good shot, especially when wildlife is concerned, and frustration when it doesn't come off. But I'd been dwelling on Presence and Contemplation recently and it came to me that photography at its best was an act of Contemplation. Of being Present to the subject of your attention. Not making a claim upon them and so tying myself to them, just Being there.

I've learnt over the years not to get fretful when God doesn't show up at the hour I've ever so courteously carved out for Him. That fretting belies a certain impatience. But waiting for the birds is very much like waiting for God in prayer, they weren't in any hurry to show themselves, and it came to me that the real fruit of patience is not the reward of a good shot, but the stillness of heart wherein time becomes of no importance, it almost disappears. As one quietens oneself to Wait, time stops. and you just are Present. And at some juncture the Silvereyes reappeared.

Of course they didn't have to, they are free, and in that stillness I found I was too.

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