01 December 2006

Integration of photography and life

A quote from Bruce Barnbaum, The Art of Photography (emphasis mine):

I have long felt that most people segregate their lives, putting their work in one place, photography in another, music in a third, other outside interests in a fourth, etc....Art, music, religion, food gathering, birth, marriage and death, are all intertwined. Each represents an essential part of life, and none can exist without support from the others. Why we have evolved into a civilization that segregates these aspects of life into essential and nonessential aspects could be a lifelong study for teams of anthropologists. But I feel that each of us who are seriously interested in making photographs could benefit greatly by trying to integrate the many facets of our own lives.
Are We There Yet?I have mostly been reflecting thus far on how photo­graphy integrates with my faith. But there are all sorts of other areas of my life that it touches on. I knew this blog couldn't go very long without including my black lab, Cricket, who is a big part of my life. She's also a great subject for photos. We'd just arrived in the parking lot for Cricket's canine water therapy appointment (basically underwater massage and swimming in a heated dogs-only pool; ah, what luxury!). I had brought my camera along to do a photo shoot for Cindy Horsfall for her La Paw Spa website. I happened to have it ready in hand when I turned around and saw Cricket begin to yawn, and I managed to catch her right at the curled tongue stage. I've titled this one "Are We There Yet?"

In animal photography, the key is to focus on the eyes. It's not such a big deal if the snout is out of focus, as it adds depth to the photo, especially with a solid colored pet. In this case, Cricket's eyes weren't open anyway, and her tongue was the point of interest, so I focused on that. Incidentally, dogs aren't the only animals who curl their tongues when they yawn. See this award-winning photo by Don Johnson.


Sørina Higgins said...

Great thoughts! Here's a question: does integrating photography & all the rest of life simply mean taking photos of everything, or does it imply something deeper? Would it mean, say creating a power point with a musical accompanyment, to integrate music; an essay illustrated with photos, to integrate academia; a creative project with poems & photos, to integrate creative writing; and so on? How would you integrate cooking, hiking, worship, friendship? Or am I just being silly?

Rosie Perera said...

I think it's more than simply taking photos of everything you're interested in. I think if your life becomes more integrated on the whole (as opposed to compartmentalized, or dis-integrated), you will be a better photographer or poet or artist in general. Chiefly, I think if one's faith is integrated with every other aspect of life, then that aspect will inform one's art more deeply than if it were a mere interest unto itself. For example, if Izaak Walton had loved fishing, but had had no faith, he could never have written The Compleat Angler. He could even have been a believer, but if his faith were compartmentalized and didn't touch on his interest in fishing (which some might think had nothing to do with faith other than "I will make you fishers of men"), then he wouldn't have penned that great contemplative classic. The more connections we make between different areas of our life, the better we will understand the complexity of this universe, and the more we will approximate the perichoretic relationships between the persons of the Trinity. That can only enrich our art. This is one of the benefits of interdisciplinary studies.

How would I integrate cooking, hiking, worship, and friendship? Easy! Invite a few Christian friends to go on a hike with me; we'd meet at my house and cook a meal together first, then bring it out along on the hike with us and consume it in on the mountain, in a place with a stunning view, after a worship service where we would celebrate communion together. Or if you have problems with a group of friends celebrating communion together outside of a church, or without an ordained clergy person to do the rite, we could just preface our meal by singing a hymn of praise for God's glorious creation (e.g., "I Sing the Mighty Power of God that made the mountains rise...").

I like your poetry and photography integration suggestion. It's something I would love to do someday. My uncle George Hobson has done it with his book Rumours of Hope: Reaching Out in Word and Imagination.

Anonymous said...

Rosie - in the midst of the busy week of moving for us, I've "stumbled" upon your soul-nurturing photographs. Thank you.

Rosie Perera said...

Thanks, Janet. Glad they are nurturing your soul. Good luck with the move. I'm packing and moving this week and next, too!

Sørina Higgins said...

Thanks, Rosie! Great thoughts, great ideas. I had heard of your uncle's book, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. My mom has spoken highly of it.

Chris Sturdy said...

Hi Rosie. I am really sorry for your loss. I heard from David B, and he sent me a link to your blog. My thoughts are with you.



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