Through a New Lens
BY TAYLOR MAY
I always wanted to be a ballerina, but I never tried because I thought I was too late. I always wanted to be able to do a back-flip, but those gymnasts have been practicing since they were five years old. I could never hold my own in a just-for-fun match of soccer, because I haven't played since I was a kid like everyone else. Skill takes practice and time, and I usually find I'm a little late to the game.
Most of my friends are photographers. Spending time with them has caused words like "aesthetic", or "vibe", or ... to be added to my vocabulary. I've always been fascinated with their skill, their eye for detail, and the way they view the world. My fascination was coupled with wonderment and bewilderment. I never quite understood how they could capture a moment of life, a glimmer of light and make it beautiful.
I never counted myself as able to do what they do. "We're wired differently," I always told myself. But always with a slight tinge of envy. Their medium seemed so accessible, so visible, so available. Perhaps the fact that I felt so completely unable, sparked a bit of curiosity. Eventually I figured the solution to my problem would be to pull the plug and spend all of my money on a camera. Which did little other than make me feel even more inhibited.
There are so many buttons! So many settings! It's like a different language. Sifting through owner's manuals and tutorials and YouTube instructions, my appreciation for my photographer friends grew to new levels, and my own self esteem dropped to the floor. I was too late. There was just no way I could believe I'd ever be able to do this. Holding my new camera in my hands instantly reminded me of all my failure. Surely I would fail at this, too.
But perhaps by limiting myself, I'm limiting the One who made me. I had conjured enough confidence to buy the camera, hadn't I? Surely there was a reason, surely I could do something with this. It takes courage, yes, to admit you need practice, to realize you're not instantly great. Blood, sweat, and tears, they say. But it also takes courage to dive into something brand new. When it's not terrifying and debilitating, it can be exhilarating and eye opening.
I’m 25 years old, I have a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and I’m taking a non-credited college course in beginner’s photography. Most weeks I leave class a bit groggy and dumbfounded, having messed with really expensive camera equipment or talked about things way too technical for me to comprehend. But there’s other days where we get out and practice what we’re learning, where we apply concepts of light and composition and try to make beautiful pictures. It’s an incredible thing when you start to understand something you never thought you would. I think God wants me to see the world in new, uncomfortable, spectacular ways. He wants to show me how His strength moves through my weakness. And there is so much more to learn.
I'll admit, I'm not much better of a photographer now than when I bought the camera a year ago. But I've been challenged to look into a different view finder, to see the world in terms of angles, composition, and light. Everything I've learned, loved, known, and grown used to is suddenly brand new. And I think that must be what heaven's like. We'll never grow tired of or used to seeing the glory of God and the Eden He's given us. Every day will be a new chance to take it all in and enjoy the creator, as His dearly loved creation.
PHOTO BY KINGA CICHEWICZ + JESSICA LAWSON