“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”
— Alfred Stieglitz
— Alfred Stieglitz
While on my way to the last Moab Photography Symposium I took some side trips. One of the places I had to visit was Bears Ears National Monument. This venerable place is one recently brought to light by the political wrangling of certain law ‘takers’. I thought this almost unknown area was deserving of a closer look.
When I go out on a photo foray I am not only looking for the obvious photo, but one of more subtlety. True I am not prejudiced of where my camera is pointed, though it must attract my eye or call my attention.
This image caught my eye, and my attention. Not at all what I expected to capture at the bottom of this deep Utah canyon. The weather had been unsettled for days now, and I had experienced rain, wind and hail early that morning. Not being deterred I ventured out regardless. The rain hadn’t quite stopped, and was actually very welcome in an area that is typically quite thirsty.
I found this poor moth struggling in a small pool of water, with rain still trickling down.
I made this image, and it has called me to think. I have spent the last several weeks thinking about what it means to me.
Not only was I able to capture the concentric circles I captured my own imagination. I saw not only an image, but a metaphor. A metaphor of struggle. This thing called life, is replete with struggles, and the ripples of our efforts radiate from within. Sometimes we don’t know of the ripples and the effect they have on others until they reach the shore and rebound back to us. There are other ripples here too. Ones created by the rain drops, echoing the struggle of the earth. The volume is turned down here, for the voice of man has made itself too loud. Looking closer even yet, there are raindrops on the wings of the moth. Perhaps the burden of what our stewardship to the earth has to bear.
There is something else here. Reflection. The canyon walls are reflecting in the image, creating a ying/yang impression. Since graduating from school I’ve had to endure some 25 years or more working in a corporate environment. It seems the only way to get ahead is to sit in some cubicle furiously typing, talking, and dealing with some snippy people. A means to an end, as they say. A means to my end, I say.
I had this same conversation many times with my late father. He always was concerned with security, and encouraged me to hold out as long as I could. His passing has been almost two years, but within this time I’ve done some reflection. Is this who I was? Was this who I wanted to be? There has to be an end to this relentless trail. Nobody is going to build a statue of me for subjecting myself to that Sisyphean uphill battle. I had the chance to live the creative path while in school. Pursuing theatre, and writing was where I saw myself at the time. I chose the consistent and stable path instead. Now I feel the need to circle around and return to the creative path. It’s been three months now and I am just starting to feel a little better.
What’s more, there is depth. There is clarity. You can see straight to the bottom, and an old decaying leaf. Sometimes you cannot see the bottom through the reflection, other times you just don’t want to see the bottom. It’s not always a pretty sight. Or it could just easily be the end that you see. Either way it is there if you choose to see it.
There is a lot going on in such a simple image. This is what it means to me. There may be more if you choose to see it. What is it that you see?