Photography as Access to Transformation

anthurium leaf at AOS Gardens
photo by ©Sheila Finkelstein
anthurium leaf photo by Ina Amesphoto by ©Ina R. Ames
(click on photos to see enlargements)

Last week I visited the American Orchid Society Greenhouse and Gardens in Delray Beach, FL with my Bostonian friend Ina Ames. One of countless visits for me, it was a first for her.

During a large portion of her long weekend visit, Ina kept repeating, "I don't take good pictures" and she wound up taking a wonderful grouping of orchid and plant photos. As we viewed the photos on my television screen, I was certain that hers were far better than mine. (Note - the .jpgs burned onto a CD will play in a DVD player. At least it will on mine, attached to our TV.)

I began to realize in reflecting that what was present for her was her enthusiasm and excitement of discovery. That's what came through, for sure, in her high quality photos - her being and her eye, into her camera and out through the photographs. I had been pretty much in the state of "been here, done that, nothing much new today."

One of her photos that I most loved was the anthurium "flower" peeking out from behind the leaf shown above. Ironically I had directed her to the view, pointing it out to her. Not surprisingly, jealousy, the human part of me, kicked in at hers being "the more exciting photo" when I compared them. I especially liked the lighting and richness of colors, probably due to technical differences in our two cameras.

Stepping back and looking "over my shoulder," so-to-speak, at the situation I realized two things. One was related to my purpose, the other to what I'm willing to do in relation to technical learning.

My purpose is to open people up to seeing things in new and different ways, in many cases things or situations that they never would have seen prior to our interactions. For the most part a viewfinder and a camera become the tools and access for this.

My purpose had been fulfilled with Ina, resulting from all of our photographic interactions, including the PICTURE TO PONDER photos which she regularly appreciates and shares with her daughter during a break for spirit refreshing at work.

Because I am human, this is not the only instance where I've noticed that little jealousy demon pricking me when people I've mentored move on "to do as well or better than I." (My own, self-inflicted judgments.)

I am self-taught with my camera and I usually shut down when I study and experiment with different settings on it and then don't make note of what I've done. I simply love the camera for the access to joy and discovery that it provides for me.

Bottom line, I am comfortable and have not furthered myself by taking any classes.

As I continue my reflections I realize I have a choice. I can be "small" and dwell in jealousy, or I can simply recognize and dismiss it any time and stand in the power and joy of having met my goals and made a difference with my students and "mentorees." I do think the latter is far more powerful, don't you?

And, in terms of the technical aspect, I can stay comfortable with what I do now with my camera, at the same time staying in that little fear that I might be discovered as "not good enough" - again my own self-inflicted judgment. Or, I can take a course, since book-learning doesn't do it for me, and expand and empower myself. I shall do that in the Fall.

Looking at the photos with fresh eyes several days later, I am able to appreciate other elements in the photos and simply recognize that each has its own merits.

Earlier, I mentioned Ina R. Ame's business. Totally unrelated to art, you can find her Rim and Wheel business at rim and Know that if you ever have need for her shop's services you can take advantage of them from anyplace in the States.

Thank you, dear friend, for allowing me to share our experience in this article and in PICTURE TO PONDER - V2 - Issue 62, as well as the photograph you took.

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Last Updated 7/14/06