“Light” was my word for 2014. It’s an ideal word to guide you when you love to make photographs. And it has moved me in directions I’m very glad to have explored.
But there is so much more to the word than that. When times are dark, we all look for light. As we approach the winter solstice, I leave you with a meditation by a favourite poet, Mary Oliver.
I have farther to go with this exploration of “light.” Perhaps we all do…
The Buddha’s Last Instruction
by Mary Oliver
“Make of yourself a light”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal—a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire—
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.
Maybe the desire to make something beautiful is the piece of God that is inside each of us.
I just returned from a rejuvenating trip to New York City. I love that city with an inexplicable passion, and have ever since I first travelled there in the early 80’s. And it’s a feeling that has come back each of the 12 or 13 times since then.
I went this time, for many reasons, but partly to make images. In every location we visited, others were taking pictures too. Now, many of these pics were no doubt travel snapshots and the ubiquitous selfies that are taken to prove to friends you went somewhere…
But I think the urge to photograph New York goes deeper than that. Everywhere you look in New York, there is so much visual richness and energy. I am convinced that visitors reach for their cameras and phones in an effort (not always totally conscious) to try to capture and take home some of the beauty and awe they experience.
At least I know I do.
This was taken in the magnificent Astor Hall of the New York Public Library.