I am breaking my 14 month blogging silence with a post inspired by the work of my good friend, photographer Ken Goddard. Whenever I see his photographs I am blown away and feel the need to write. Just as he strives to capture and reflect his own observations and perspective on life and the beauty of nature, which he does brilliantly, I try to do the same in words and music.
While we will never truly do our subjects justice, the quest is always rewarding. Like all true artists, we are quite selfish in that we are really pursuing this holy grail for ourselves – yet we live in the dichotomy of simultaneously craving, or at least thriving on, the positive reactions of others to our efforts.
The idea behind this and what will hopefully be a series of posts, is to take one of Ken’s photographs and express the multitude of thoughts, memories and emotions that it evokes in me. I know a picture speaks a thousand words, and these words are personal to the beholder. In some ways it seems all the more futile to give my own reactions, but I hope at least to spark, in turn, some positive reactions in you as you read them. And at best, that you are inspired to view the world in an ever more positive and beautiful light that will shine through and reflect in your daily lives.
Some of my reactions and emotions are quite intense (as a quote I recently discovered says, “it is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply”…) but for me this is what being – and feeling – alive is all about. So while it is my sincerest wish that everyone be happy and at peace, I differ from those that view certain art (in which I include music, film and all other forms) as “depressing” because they make you cry or feel sad. I recently watched The King’s Speech and Hotel Rwanda in quick succession and I will remember those two days for the rest of my life…I am also using the emotional intensity to positively influence my life and my efforts to make a difference in the world – our emotions and reactions are our own and we are responsible for – and capable of – controlling them and using them for good.
So if I do manage to provoke a reaction in you then my mission is accomplished and I hope you will make the most of the feeling and use it positively in your life.
My first photograph is actually very different from what I thought I would start with. As the title of Ken’s personal page (“Sinanju – Reflections and Shadows”) implies, much of his work contains the often mysterious and always fascinating effects of light, reflecting and projecting on contrasting surfaces. Needless to say, his page is meant to be taken both literally and figuratively.
The literal reflections are stunning enough, and very clear to observe. Not so much the figurative interpretation, which is almost always present, often hiding, in his work. So in a sense the photograph I have chosen relies less on obvious reflection or shadow – though light clearly plays a central role. It therefore called out to me as the one to choose first as its perhaps more subtle light provokes an equally more subtle reaction (it is an achingly beautiful scene but it does not scream at you from the page!) and a more metaphorically reflective one.
-Ken Godard’s photo blog (click to visit)
The scene is a late summer’s morning, mountains casting shadows over the fertile valley. A hazy mist still hangs lazily in the air and reflects the warm sunlight, adding a nostalgic glow. As the light continues its journey, trees dissect it into a million rays, punctuated by their twin shadows (Yin and Yang in naturally perfect balance). Leaves, still endowed of newly-sprung sheen, sparkle through the haze, creating a million more points of light.
Meadow grasses and wild flowers compete for light and pollinators as they make their last efforts of the season, as remains of last harvest’s hay leave a background reminder of the imminent rupture of the idyllic peace. A peace imagined and evoked by the image but experienced only in the mind, which superimposes the chirping of birds and the rhythmic clicking of grasshoppers.
The mind wanders further into the scene, colours becoming more intense, sounds more distinct: individual crickets vying for attention in the grasses nearby, the vibrant tunes of the songbirds and the busyness of the bees defying the observer’s lazy restfulness.
Yet as much as the observer is drawn into the scene, so does the scene enter in and draw out of the observer. As the imagination morphs a static and detached snapshot of a remote and unknown place, consciousness drifts too, to distant thoughts and experiences, past memories and future dreams. The symbiotic relationship between photographed and photographer, image and observer, creates a nurturing will to preserve and a personal desire to explore and grow. To know the scene and to know oneself better. A wistful reflection of what has been or a growing urge to experience what is to come.
Light, as life, will always cast shadows. But as relief from the burning midday sun, or as refuge from hunters at dusk, they would be friends if we let them. How we live with light and shadow shapes who we are and who we will become. We are reflections of what we have thought and done; life events cast their shadows, both good and painful: all that we have experienced makes us who we are. Living now with what we have and committing to ever better lives can turn every day into a scene as inviting to explore as this one.