A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed. Ansel Adams
I find it pretty amazing that a renowned photographer, whose works most everyone would recognize, identifies emotion as being critical to a great photograph. Of course the paper and specks of ink don’t have emotions hard wired somewhere among the specks; it is the photographer who determines what emotion those specks relay to the observer.
This excites me because it makes me feel like an artist. I understand that, like all artisans, I have to work to improve technique, knowing how to use equipment and software to express my vision. However, the technical components are the tools to do what I really love, attempting to capture all that I see as beautiful. Photography becomes the act of defining beauty.
I have stopped at this place in the Everglades National Preserve three times, and each time I felt its beauty. I breathed in the quiet. I was stilled by the contrast of light and shadow. The way the trees and water vied for space beckoned me in. The scene and I played with each other as I worked to capture what it was saying to me.
It spoke of much more than emotional pleasure. It spoke of the identity of the Everglades, telling me how important it is to wildlife. I heard it speak of life as this vast river of fresh water flows to the ocean. I heard it beg for protection. I heard with my thinking and my emotions. These were intimate moments spent together.
I know, professionally, that awareness of emotion is very important for maintaining human relationships. Emotional intelligence helps us to hear and respond to others. Emotional awareness helps us navigate the landmines that are scattered in our relationships so we can remain connected. Hearing each other’s joy and pain brings us closer together. Attending to emotions help us know each other, to see the beauty in our selves.
I am learning how to use this same emotional intelligence to become intimate with my non-human environment. It is making photography the art form and me the artist.