“We never see another person’s experience; all we see is their behaviour (R.D. Lang).”
I have had some alone time travelling in the past few weeks and been able to engage in uninterrupted thought work – some intersecting of ideas has occurred. I’ve listened to a 2007 John O’Donohue lecture on the creative force of the imagination and key ideas as starting points about our inner lives – in his words, “I always think that behind every face there is a secret life and that humanoids are the strangest creatures that you’d ever meet because so much is contained within the human body. A human face is one of the most unusual things in the world. On such a small canvas such a variety of presence can appear. And, behind every face there is a secret, hidden inner life … if friendship means anything it means in the presence of the other you begin to see who you are in how they reflect you back to you.”
Within this same time frame I took in a photography workshop offered by Joe McNally – ‘The Moment It Clicks.’ As I listened and watched Joe work to produce different portraits there was recognition that the photographer does what John O’Donohue proposes; ultimately, the photographer reflects the subject back to him- or herself. I have wondered, though, if portrait photography is really a dance of interrogation; I have wondered if shared vulnerabilities result in trust and a richer portrait. And, is it the photographer’s leading interrogation about the subject’s narrative that produces the best photograph? Or, is it something more mutual that does so? I am wondering if the good portrait photographer leads the subject in the relationship that produces the portrait? It is possible that subject and photographer would share a context of silence in portrait making.
John O’Donohue’s words highlight some of this – “No two humans inhabit the same world, internally. We all inhabit the same world physically. But, internally, each world is completely different.” On the side of the photographer and on the side of the subject, what follows is starting point. “… No one else sees the world the way you do. No one else sees it from the perspective that you do. In no one else is the same narrative building as there is within you. And even though similar things have happened to you as with other people the context that they find in your heart and mind and narrative is different from everyone else. Your inner world is completely hidden from other humans.” So, within portrait photography interrogation has the opportunity to work on both sides co-creating a reality – that of photographer and that of subject. Relationship and moment are captured and recorded as the shutter button is pressed.
As the week rounded out, I found myself among this theme, again, being explored and brought to life in Ben Stiller’s film of James Thurber’s story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
Images from the Road – a derelict church in Woking, a La Glace homestead, the road at night and sunsets.
Quote to Consider – “If you’re having difficulty finding a natural or intuitive expression in a portrait session or having trouble identifying with the person you’re photographing, look into their eyes carefully and see if you can find your own reflection there. Discover yourself looking at you. Then, ask your subject to look into your camera lens and find their own reflection, and be prepared to make the portrait.” – Shelby Lee Adams, ‘Find Your Reflection’ … seems follow-up from the aphorism, “The more I know me, the more I know thee.” – Buber-esque and good, good schtuff!
Listening to – Jose Gonzalez’ ‘Stay Alive’ and Thomas Merton’s ‘The Seven Storey Mountain.’
26 thoughts on “Reflecting, Road Thought Work”
I thoroughly enjoy your thought-provoking posts and images. Sometimes it’s a hard pill to swallow knowing that we are all mirrors of each other. And thanks for visiting my blog!
Hey there, Gina:
Your blog contained surprise – where Phoenix and Arizona had been reference points for you, you’re now based in Oregon. Cool. For me, Oregon holds memories of the Pacific Coast Highway and our sojourns during a week’s drive towards San Raphael, California. Memories of that trip have been recalled with the ocean images in a recent listening to Maeve Binchy’s novel, ‘A Week in Winter.’ The conception of welcome was there – the sojourner being brought in and cared for; the matter of being able to utilize time to sort things through away from the main stage of life was there; the matter of lives arriving into a common time away was also a part of the sojourner reality. The idea of welcome also contained the idea of fostering healing and well-being – the idea was that of exploring narratives and decisions along the narrative track. There was also an optimistic sense – that all would be well and work out as it should (you could make a choice to agree with such a view … with the encouragement of others).
My apologies on the readership front. The school year has been big in a tangle of ways. Yesterday, I saw that with wordpress widgets I could include the avatars of my blog’s followership – that has been a good thing to see each face and recognize the otherness and perhaps shared solidarity of others blogging along with me/us in common or real time. It’s also cool that clicking on each avatar takes me directly to each fellow blogger.
Mirrors of each other – you remind me of two things; you utilize Namaste as greeting and blessing; and, Leo Buscaglia first defined Namaste for me many, many years ago. We are mirrors of each other. But reflection seems a static thing – something dealing with our past. Namaste is active and it’s about what you or I can become individually and in terms of ‘we.’ Buscaglia offers …
“Namaste” is an ancient greeting that recognizes that we are equal with whomever we meet. Upon greeting another being, one puts their palms together and bows, saying … Namaste”… which means: “The God in me greets the same God in you, the Spirit in me meets the same Spirit in you, I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the place in you, where lies your love, your light, your truth, and your beauty. I honor the place in you, where … if you are in that place in you … and I am in that place in me … then there is only one of us.” – Leo Buscaglia
Who we have been may seem to be who we tend to be. That hard pill to swallow is likely about recognition of our opportunity to move beyond our comfort zone and live in better and new ways … don’t you love being on a learning curve?
Anyway … Namaste, Gina (take care) 😉
I’m on the learning curve … a lot of the time. Take care.
Wow that is beautiful, so much to reflect upon. The pictures are gorgeous…what a spiritual journey you just experienced! Thanks for sharing!!
Hey there, Deb:
Thank you, for your kind words and investigating this narrative of thought work and images. One key thing that is there in every photograph is the idea of threshold and what works to shake free the new entity that becomes the photograph. At some point the shutter button is pressed, again and again and a journey of discovery is warmed to and begins.
Much goes into living our Lives each day – a large measure of grace helps; ‘Our Daily Grateful Post’ does this! Good, good!
Take good care of your good self, Deb! I will check-in when I can. 😉
Thank you, and I look forward to visiting often…
What a gorgeous series of road shots! It’s funny … I was just this morning shooting a photo of a road and wondering if it would turn out.
All of them are great but that third one is really great!
Hey there, Laurie:
It’s good to read that you had your camera out today and were claiming shots of the road. Are you shooting in Program, Av or Tv mode these days?
The third image was taken at 1:30 a.m. two or three Sundays ago. In the last hour home there were mists clinging close to the ground and the cloud ceiling was also quite low … a weather phenomenon in which it had just rained with the heat being enough to cause low lying vapour that could be seen. The image is a high dynamic range (HDR) shot merging three exposures (2 stops down, Average and 2 stops up); I’ve exposed it somewhat brighter than intended so all could be seen.
Take care (I’ll have a look for your road photo soon).
I’m shooting mostly in AV, but on my gosh I have so much to learn!
Hey there, Laurie:
In Av mode, if you’re shooting at f8 or f11 those will be the strongest points for the lens in what it offers (all other f stops will work, as well … these are just the strongest points for working with the lens). For most day time shots you can work at 100 ISO, but you may want to have it set to 400 to accommodate some shots with shade.
I’m not sure … I think you bought a Canon 60D or 70D; with those you can adjust your ISO substantially to work with natural light indoors without using a flash.
Your photos make me want to take a road trip. Absolutely gorgeous post, gently inspirational and thought reflective. And thanks for stopping by my blog.
Hey there, Donna:
Liking your post on miracles today.
I get such a kick in the pants when John O’Donohue encourages mindfulness regarding the miracle of our being and that all this (Life) is going on. He’d be one to encourage any of us to take time to see the quiet miracles that seek no attention. Oriented in the Christian tradition, he offers this (a good kick in the pants). “It is a strange and wonderful fact to be here, walking around in a body, to have a whole world within you and a world at your fingertips outside you. It is an immense privilege, and it is incredible that humans manage to forget the miracle of being here. Rilke said, ‘Being here is so much,’ and it is uncanny how social reality can deaden and numb us so that the mystical wonder of our lives goes totally unnoticed. We are here. We are wildly and dangerously free.”
He’d be the first to recognize that each of us, often, need to come home to ourselves and he offers invocation or prayer for this, “May all that is unforgiven in you be released. May your fears yield their deepest tranquilities. May all that is unlived in you blossom into a future graced with love.” Evocative words, words to consider, words to move us on in and through Life and words to live out.
Road trip – definitely! Good things happen as we move through each mile away from home and on our return; we do not see the world in the same way as when we left and are often better for our thought work as it grounds us. A camera may also be valuable for noticing the world and its miracles.
Thank you for checking out what this blog holds and your kind words.
Take care …
I appreciate those words and I receive them wholehearted. Birth is a miracle and each morning should be celebrated with gratitude – that’s my philosophy for living out extraordinary days for the rest of my time on this earth.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us as I join you in agreement.
Beautiful pictures 🙂
Hola Zuri …
Gracias por sus amables palabras … 😉
As a one-time Calgarian, I love all these Alberta shots! I’m especially impressed at your ability to take one of the Albera cliches (the big skies, for e.g.) and show us something fresh & wondrous. Those sunset shots along the highway are a joy. (And thank you, too, for following my blog.)
Hey there, Penny:
Alberta is perhaps best known for its skies. Having been a Calgarian you would have been able to travel into the mountains easily and capture the moment by moment changes in mountain weather and its beauty – totally good schtuff.
It has been good to find you blog and to meander within it. Good.
Thanks for looking in and your kind words. Take care … 😉
Wow such beautiful photography! I enjoyed reading your post too 🙂
Hey there, Norma:
I’m enjoying the colour of the Lorikeets and those water falls with plenty of water – very cool.
Thank you for your kind words. Take care … 😉
Thanks Lumens, I’m enjoying your photos too. Isn’t it great seeing the other side of the world through photos 🙂
Hey there, Norma:
Thank you Norma – I am with you on this!
The other side or sides of the world – the internet is allowing us to see so much! And, often it is close to real-time … the earthquakes in Nepal had images streaming from many, many sources and allowed for both a sense of being within the quake and for dealing with the aftermath beyond the quake.
But, it is something within an hour to be exposed to a poet’s expression in India, a photographer’s sunset in Poland, the watercolor Covered Bridge of a painter in Oregon, a Lorikeet in Australia. In all this, there’s colour, shape, line; there’s context and weather and locale; there’s the press and absence of politics. And, a photograph holds so much and (I hadn’t thought of this) it limits us in the information we deal with.
A global village, I’d say … very good schtuff!
Take care … 😉
i love the ‘AHEAD’ road.
I’m liking this image also for it being a capture at 1:30 a.m. (in the land of the midnight sun).
Take care … 😉
Beautiful sunsets ! Where did you take these ?
I also love the picture with the “ahead” sign, it’s very motivational ! 🙂
Good day, good day …
Thank you for looking in and your kind words. These sunsets are northern Alberta sunsets and are captured close to the Warrensville corner at the junction of highway 35 (the Mackenzie highway) and highway 737 which leads off to Figure Eight Lake. The ‘ahead’ sign laminated to the road is part of some ‘stop ahead’ signage warning drivers of an upcoming intersection. No doubt ‘ahead’ and ‘stop ahead’ motivate in their own ways.
Take care … 😉