Between the Hands of God and Man
22 November 2017
Image of Creation of Adam, Sistine Chapel, by Michelangelo. Wikimedia Commons image.
I have been doing photography for approximately 11 years, now. It is a continuous learning experience. If I am not learning technical things about my camera, I am researching shooting locations and subjects, or trying to decipher the business side of photography. As a nature and architecture photographer, I have found myself become a little bit weatherman, gardener, bird watcher, conservationist, camper, entrepreneur, entomologist, historian, herpetologist, lighting technician...Yet, it still floors me when I realize something new about the answer to why I do photography.
In all the business classes I have taken, and all the books I have read, they tell you that one of the first things you have to take is to answer why you do what you do. I always viewed it as the first step on the road to becoming a professional. Then I feel like I am starting over on that journey every time I discover another layer of the “why.”
Yet, that is not how it is supposed to be. “Define your why” is only part of the sentence. The full sentence is, “Define your why every single day; let your why define every single day; and most of all know that sometimes your why will define itself.” It does not mean I have to start over. It just means I have reached another Camp on my climb up my Mount Everest. It is a place to stop, rest, and prepare for the next part of the climb.
I say all this to lead to the fact that I have discovered another layer of the “why.” Since I started photography, I have known that I take pictures because it is an act of worship of God and Jesus Christ for me. I capture that idea by saying that I photograph the “Wow, God!” Moments, because it is in those moments that God’s creation stops me in my tracks and the simple words of praise--”Wow, God!”--escape from my lips. The picture that comes from that moment is my testimony to the encounter. Moses came back to the people glowing from his encounters with God. I come back with pictures.
Today, I realized a visual image that expresses exactly where those “Wow, God!” Moments exist that I am seeking. Michelangelo painted a beautiful scene on the Sistine Chapel ceiling titled, the Creation of Adam. In the painting, we see Adam weakly stretching out a hand toward God, and God, with the full power of Heaven, leaning out to touch Adam. (As a side note: have you ever noticed that God is putting far more effort into them touching than Adam is?) It is there in that space between their two fingers that I do photography. That space where the Almighty God is creating and reaching out with the fullness of His power and love towards man. If I could pick an address for my photography, this is where it would live. It is here that every sunrise, sunset, flower petal, bird feather, and rusting door fixture exists--in that space.
This explains so much to me. This is why I can get so lost and overwhelmed in a moment while out shooting. It is because I am standing in that gap and experience the full implications of that space. It also explains why sometimes a photo outing is not working well for me. It is in those times that I am focusing on everything that is outside that space and focused on me. I can only capture the “Wow, God!” Moments when I am paying attention to where those “Wow, God!” Moments exist.
I must admit that this visual epiphany is both exciting and amazing to me. It is my hope that this helps someone else to define their why, also. If it does, then I hope to meet you sometime in that space between the fingers of God and man. In the meantime, post a comment in the comment section to tell me how you see this or something similar in your life. I look forward to seeing your responses.