Photography and Beauty

23 Aug
Charalambos Epaminonda’s Virgin of the Sign

Charalambos Epaminonda’s Virgin of the Sign

The light of the morning sun burns the sky with rays of gold, waking the city. The wrinkles of my great aunt line her face with tales of the past, to be discovered through long afternoon conversations. Montana mountains loom over valleys, crystal lakes gleam and stretch to rest at the base of splendor. The synchronized laughter of mother and daughter with uncanny similarity caught in a celebration. The still frame.

We experience, we capture, and we archive. Then what? As a closet photographer I have struggled with the idea of art as I captured moment after moment over the past decade. With the development of digital photography these captured moments became ever so frequent. At one point I turned on my computer and I was overwhelmed by the thousands of moments I had captured yet forgotten. Photography was no longer an art to me, it was supplementing my memory.

He Sang Frank Sinatra all day long. I wish I wanted a pumpkin...

He Sang Frank Sinatra all day long. I wish I wanted a pumpkin…

Upon this realization I vowed to put down my digital camera and return to film. There is a risk to film photography, the moments captured in frames with no certainty in their release. Only when you have successfully developed the roll, bypassing all the possible moments of premature exposure to light, can you marvel in the still frame. With this risk, I once again became aware of the moment, not allowing my memory to rely on the outcome of the capture. The beauty became fleeting but I knew there had to have been more.

With the click of the shutter came an acute awareness of the moment. The reflection of the light, the crisp clear water of the river, and the sound of the laughter pulsing through my veins, rattling my bones, beckoning my lungs to gasp for air. I wasn’t capturing a memory anymore, I was grasping for beauty, a beauty that directed me towards something else, towards the Infinite. The subscript of a friend’s email sends me a quote by C.S. Lewis from The Weight of Glory, “We do not want merely to see beauty… We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it… At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.” I grasp at beauty because it is infinite, because I want to be a part of it. It is the reflection of Christ. It is Christ. Standing in front of these moments, with the shutter at my fingertips, I am beckoned to sing Alleluia.

-Colleen Pesci


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