Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why I Take Photographs

BY SUZANNE WILLIAMS

I came across a video posted on You Tube that set my thoughts in motion for this article. I don't know anything about the person who created it, nor what their inspiration was. I do know that it exemplifies the reason behind every photograph I take.

Nature Time Lapse III By Mockmoon *
Give the video time to load and then watch it full screen.

I have been following this person's work for quite some time now. Sometime last year I set out to try it for myself. Each morning for an entire week, I sat on my front stoop, my camera on a tripod, and every 10 seconds or so, took a photograph. Below are my results.


My own time lapse video comes nowhere near the quality of work of this other person, but I found in my attempt something deeper, the essence of which keeps me returning to my camera again and again.

There is nothing as profound as realizing you are there at one of those rare moments when everything has fallen into line. The photograph you take at that instant becomes much more than just a picture or a memory. Instead, it holds in it something unfathomable which changes you somehow. These times are few and far between, and yet I think even knowing that they do come is what keeps a photographer coming back.

Years ago before I ever was really "into" photography, I took a trip to the beach with my husband and my daughter. One evening as we stood on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico and watched the sun set in the sky, I had one of these moments. The light around us was simply magical, encircling. Everywhere we turned the colors were greater and more fantastic.

The photograph below, which I took on that evening, stands out for me now as a measure against which every other sunrise or sunset image I attempt to take is compared. I have taken many since then, and I am happy with a lot of my results. But with one exception, they don't hold me the way this one does.

People at Sunset, Longboat Key, Florida

It "holds me" because it has become in my photographic portfolio not just another visual image, but an entire experience. I experienced that moment. I knew when I was there that there would never be another like it.

I had this same feeling standing at the top of Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains one summer. I wrote in my journal later that evening, "I stood today with all the world beneath my feet." It is more than the fact that the view was fantastic. It is that I had at that place in time my own epiphany. Suddenly, I knew how big the earth really was and how small my part is in it.

Across the Miles, Newfound Gap, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee

It doesn't take having a camera, or even being a good photographer, to have one of these moments. I think all of us can recall special minutes in our lives. For me, it is that these minutes keep me creating images. These times are why I so admire the work of other people, like the Timelapse Video by Mockmoon. They keep me stirred up and inspired. Because of them, because I know another one could happen on any given day, I continue to take photographs. It is like being on a quest where each supposed treasure is different and better than the last.

Silence in Stone, Slocum's Water Garden
Silence in Stone, Slocum's Water Garden, Winter Haven, Florida

* This video is not a true video per se. It is time lapse photography, that being a series of digital pictures spanning hours of time sequenced together. This makes the results all the more amazing.
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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

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