In our book, What Does Your Soul Love?, I shared the story of how I was learning photography at the same time as I was in the midst of a dark night of the soul.
At the time, and even still, I carry within me the metaphors of photography as a paradigm for life. There are many connections between photography, presence and perspective. I’ll share three with you today.
LOOK FOR THE LIGHT FIRST. Any skilled photographer will tell you that light is the most important factor in an image.
You can have the most beautiful background in the world, but if the lighting is off, what does it matter? The image will not be pleasing.
So the search for beautiful light became a daily practice for me. I began to notice light’s colors and shades. Is it harsh or soft, bright or dim, high or low angled?
It’s been many years since I practiced photography and yet I am still drawn in by the perfect lighting at just that right time of day.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. (Psalm 119:105, The Message)
Looking first for Jesus as our light is good practice. Just as light dictated where I had people stand and pose for their photographs, so Jesus, as our light, directs our paths and guides our words.
And remember that Jesus is very creative. See if there is a new way in which Jesus wants to show up as your light today. Look for the LIGHT first.
USE THE RULE OF THIRDS. The rule of thirds is quite simple and can change the quality of your photos instantly.
When you are taking a photo on your phone, you likely see a set of faint lines drawn like a game of tic tac toe. These lines are the rule of thirds.
If you place the horizon or a mountain or a shoreline on one of the horizontal lines, it will be much more pleasing to the eye. If you place a person or a tree on one of the vertical lines it just feels more balanced.
And where the lines intersect is where you want to place the main focal point of your image. A single flower in the dirt, a lone tree on a hill, or an eye on a face.
For our purposes, let’s call the rule of thirds, the rule of three. The Trinity. Sometimes, it’s easy to lose sight of God as Three.
And yet the Father, the Son and the Spirit all work together harmoniously in a grand and cosmic community of love. All mutually giving and receiving. No hierarchy. No games. Just love. Community. Sharing. Endlessly giving to one another and to us.
The next time you need a little balance in your life’s image, remember the rule of three. And be embraced by the Trinity in all their glory. The rule of three. The Trinity.
CHOOSE WHERE TO FOCUS. Often, when I would share my travel photography, people would say, “You must have an amazing camera! What kind is it?” My response, “It’s just my phone.” The reason the images are compelling is because I took the time to choose where to point the camera.
Ansel Adams once said, “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” Where you choose to focus matters. You could be standing in a trash dump, but if you point your camera in the right direction you might have a masterpiece on your hands.
Doesn’t it work this way in life? This is about perspective. Where are you choosing to focus? Even in a desert, you can find a single pink blossom on a lone cactus. Or an iridescent sheen on the shell of an unusual beetle.
Choosing where to focus can breathe life into an otherwise bleak day.
My hope is that one of these ideas helps you today. You could improve your photography and your life at the same time!
P.S. Below are a few images from our trip to Israel in 2012. Can you spot the rule of thirds?