Years ago, before cell phones, instant cameras, and electronics, someone bought me a camera. It was a black box with a film on the back and a simple lens over an opening in the front. There was a crude mechanical shutter release on the front, and a viewfinder screwed to the top, nothing else.
This simple camera taught me more about life than any other device including the computer and the internet. It was based on the early knowledge of the eye which people mistakingly used to call the window to the soul. It is not since the soul is not the brain.
In the fifties, film was rather expensive and developing pictures much more yet. I had to study a lot of material to make sure that I didn’t waste any pictures and I did. I spent many days, in the age before television when we had time to think, learning lifelong lessons which are still with me to this day.
First, you have to figure out what you will take a picture of. There must be something that for some reason is more important than the rest. We choose all the time what to pay attention to and exclude the rest. Try to choose what to think about. You will discover that mostly you don’t. Life chooses it for you, and you go right into it without considering why. If you think about what to take a picture of, you can learn to select your thoughts.
Next, you will figure out if the subject of your picture is going to be the main item in your picture or if it is going to be a part of something bigger. Is it going to be a picture of an eye, a face, a body with the head or perhaps a scenery with a person somewhere in it? The eye is still there. This is a process that is done by itself, but we could do by paying attention. A good practice is to write some of your thoughts. I face it every week when I am going to write this column. This week I had some requests to write about current issues and local politics. There were some news items that I heard on international news, which are not known here, and cameras. Could my readers benefit from learning to chose what to think about? The latest won.
You probably notice, if you have an old camera, that the light makes a difference. No pictures in the dark but wonderful pictures in low light, if one doesn’t use an automatic flash. Do you know how they take a picture of the milky way? The eye hardly can see it, but a long exposure shows millions of stars. If you pay attention to something for a long time, you get details that all others miss. No kidding, it is just an exercise in attention and patience. You must shine a light on something to see it.
I had the old camera for a while, and I became interested in portraits of people and animals. Faces intrigued my interest, pretty pictures were loved by people, but I wanted to show through the camera lens the personality of creatures or the one thing that interested me the most, the soul. You can’t see, smell or touch a soul, but you sure feel that each is different from another. It seems as if the soul makes a body grow just a little bit to reflect its own nature. It is evident in “first impressions” but more pronounced if you have patience and take time to notice.
I remember how as a child I noticed that some people had wrinkles showing that they smiled a lot. Some had frowning marks and some had what I called stone faces. There was a principal in my grade school who had a stone face and the kids used to say that he could paralyze you with a look. I never got his picture.
The next thing I noticed was that all creatures had a good side and a not so good side. In my thinking, I interpreted it as good or evil. It is true, and a child learns early in life to try and deal with the good side, unless they can’t find it. A few people have no expression and whatever they say can’t change the impression they project. At that point, the photographer can play with the angle of the camera.
Benito Mussolini forced all photographers to take his pictures from the bottom up. It made him look like a strong, powerful leader. Pictures from above the middle of the face make women look more feminine and so on. When you meet a person, you tend to choose from which angle you will remember them. It can be done by choice instead of chance. You can select to see them in sharp focus where every line and blemish count, or you can see them in soft focus where the general outline is visible but the little details are not seen. Women prefer the soft focus and men the sharp. You can see a person how you want or expect them to be, depending on your emotional state and feelings towards them. A photographer can direct your emotions about a person by choosing the angle, focus or distance from them. They don’t need to say a word.
Now in the age of complicated, sophisticated devices, we lost a lot of this knowledge. The camera corrects almost all of what I mentioned, and most pictures are taken from the front and middle by people who don’t know that you have so many choices. You must remember that you do and consider that what you see forms your thoughts, and your thoughts direct your emotions.
My friend told me that we use the creative power of God with our thoughts. You live in your thoughts and don’t forget it. Your thoughts are your reality, and often your reality is your choice.