Wow, I didn’t realize how much I’d been missing this!
I was enjoying the scene of a placid lake reflecting some low hills at the end, the mirror image so perfect the hills looked surreal in stark contrast with the clearly focused flowering shrubs and bushes in the foreground.
I had just copied some photos to my computer from a new camera and looking at the first few photos on my 23” monitor brought tears of nostalgia to my eyes.No, it wasn’t the summer vacation memory that jarred my emotions. It was the realization that for far too long I had been suppressing a creative urge, denying an emotional need, and neglecting an area of my life that in my younger years had given me great satisfaction.
I was 32 years old when a friend took me into his photo darkroom and taught me to make black and white enlargements. I was instantly hooked on cropping, burning in, and lightening my blowups. Within a few years I was developing not only film and photo paper, but my photographic creativity in my own darkroom in Brazil. I also had a Minolta slide camera with multiple lenses, but used it mostly to shoot photos needed for slides to show on furloughs or pictures to illustrate newsletters.
But then, in the late 1980s the pressures of completing the Bible translation project and looming life changes squeezed artistic photography out of my life. I sold my darkroom equipment, and my large format film cameras and took snapshots, not photos with my 35 mm Minolta camera. After 24 years in Brazil I returned to Canada with hundreds of black and white negatives, and 3,000 slides of our family and ministry among the Canelas.
Leadership responsibilities and blog writing filled the creativity gap. Or so I thought.
About 15 years ago I stopped using the 35 mm film camera and bought a small automatic digital camera good for taking snapshots. Then, about a month ago, I finally listened to what my wife had been saying for many years. “Jack, you need a hobby, something that has nothing to do with words.”
She had often been after me to relax, get out of the world of ideas and into the world of nature. I should have listened to her years ago. I bought a new camera, a digital Nikon with a Nikkor zoom lens, a famous brand I had lusted after in my youth, and now forty years later was finally within my reach. The next day we left on a two-week combined ministry and vacation trip . . . through the mountains! Oh yes!
It was love at first click. I shot 25 pictures a day . . . for two weeks! Some of them even turned out to be good photos showing care for composition, colour, and contrast. And being digital, there was no worry about expense! Great!
But wait! There’s more!
Our four American teenage granddaughters are very much into drawing, painting and photography. So I started a Photo of the Week project where we each share a photo via email telling what we like about it, and how it could possibly be improved and, sometimes, what it teaches us about God. Afterwards we comment on each other’s photos. Now I not only feed my own creative urges, I am helping some talented photo artists to develop their talents. Life is good!
The lesson in all this?
Be open to God’s urging. Listen to your heart. Give in to your gut feelings. And, if that fails, listen to your spouse. Your life will take on more colour, have better compositional balance, and certainly show more contrast with your everyday world.