One of my favorite photographers is Zeb Andrews. I love looking at his work. What he does with a camera and his imagination is inspiring. He’s written a wonderful post on his website speaking about what makes photography worthwhile. And while his post is photography-specific, I believe the ideas behind it apply to many areas of life. Here’s some of what he has to say:
“Your photography is not limited by your camera, nor your lens. It is not limited by shutter speeds, aperture, film, focus, flash, white balance, color, black and white, grain, noise, etc. It is not limited by your budget nor your education. It is not, and I repeat, not, limited by light. It is certainly not limited by where you live or where you go. Your photography is limited simply and quite importantly, only by your own imagination and vision. All those factors I mentioned (and more) can certainly affect your photography, but ultimately you make of it what you will. Photography begins and ends with the photographer, the best light in the world, or most advanced metering system will not change that…
“What matters most happens before the picture is even taken, not after. The worth of your photography is in what gets you up at 4 am in the morning to brave freezing conditions in hopes of a sunrise. It is what makes you follow your children around all day long patiently snapping frame after frame. It is what causes you to drive for miles, or walk them, in search of that moment, be it in the middle of a sprawling urban landscape or a natural one. It is significantly in what keeps you picking up that camera as the fractions of seconds become days, the days months, the months pool into years, and beyond. It is in this desire to see, to experience, to feel, to celebrate, to remember, to be a part of, to be amazed or amused, that you will find what makes your photography worthwhile. Everything that comes after the snap of the shutter is merely added drama, and it is never as important as you think it is.”
This isn’t the first time something in photography has opened a window into other areas of my life. As I ponder Zeb’s words, I realize that it’s too easy to slip into laziness. Sure I could give it another name and make up excuses, but bottom-line it’s simple laziness. My slothfulness is one of the areas of my life that I’ve become painfully and shamefully aware of during this Lent.
Years ago, I had a fire within me. I had a passion similar to what Zeb describes. I possessed what I believed to be a calling in my life and I pursued that calling with everything within me. I felt like I was a long-distance runner. With almost two decades of practice, I had found my stride as I stretched ever-forward toward my goal.
And then I stumbled. Or was I tripped? Does it even matter any more? All I know is that I hurt. All I could feel was pain and confusion. When before I had run, now I could only walk and limp. I was no longer confident that everything I had been pursuing was worthwhile anymore. And I chose to become lazy, to stop running and to cast off much of the discipline and structure that had helped me to run.
Recently, I’ve come to realize that if I don’t change, I will become the very thing I’ve always dreaded — nominal. I hear St Paul speaking familiar words:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” — 1Cor 9:24-27
Now mere days away from Holy Week and the hope of Christ’s transfiguring Pascha before me, I hear the cry (ala Forrest Gump), “Run, Jason, run.” I know the destination is much different than before as are the necessary disiplines and training. And I know I will face much soreness as I use atrophied muscles. But I choose to run again.