As I have worked through photographing with a focus on a color each week during July, I have noticed that the weeklong focus pushed me to think about not only color but also composition differently.
Blue…only a short three days as July came to an end…expressed itself differently than I expected. When I originally crafted the color challenge I thought blue would focus on water…beachy things that are so prevalent in summer. But my end of July didn’t take me to the beach or near the water as expected. Instead, with the color in my head, blue appeared in unexpected places. When I photographed this butterfly I didn’t even know it had blue dots on its wings. I don’t think I even noticed it was sitting on a blue chair. What I saw was an opportunity to capture this beautiful creature through my lens. I took a shot, then crept closer took another shot, crept closer… I was amazed that the butterfly let me get so close. Maybe it could sense my appreciation.
I find myself looking at the world around me as an opportunity for composition. And I’m also thinking about the ways my eyes see things differently than my lens does. Sometimes it’s the light…and my camera captures a silhouette where I see color. Other times I can clearly see that bird in the sky…and my camera records a spot. It’s a reminder to me that our lens shifts our view and understanding of the world. We can look at the same thing and understand it differently. It’s important for me to remember that what I see and understand doesn’t necessarily represent what someone else sees and understands through their lens. And looking at those differences creates an opportunity to learn from one another. As Margaret Wheatley reminds us in her text Willing to be Disturbed:
We live in a dense and tangled global system. Because we live in different parts of this complexity, and because no two people are physically identical, we each experience life differently. It’s impossible for any two people to ever see things exactly the same. You can test this out for yourself. Take any event you’ve shared with others (a speech, a movie, a current event, a major problem) and ask your colleagues and friends to describe their interpretation of that event. I think you’ll be amazed at how many different explanations you’ll hear. Once you get a sense of diversity, try asking even more colleagues. You’ll end up with a rich tapestry of interpretations that are much more interesting than any single one.
This is what I love best about the photo-a-day challenge…I get to explore my own lenses and see what my friends and colleagues see through their lenses. And I know this openness and exploration helps me beyond photography…into my classroom, with my fellow educators, and out in the world.