Photography Transforms

Photography TransformsExperiences of all kinds can transform us in different ways.  Photography is one of the most profound. One of my favorite photo sharing sites, Viewbug.com, displays this quote each time a user signs on:

Photography helps people to see.  — Berenice Abbott

Yes, photography has that potential, that power. Photos that focus us on a single flower, or leaf, or tree, can transform how we see life, creation, and beauty.

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change. — Buddha

Photos of landscapes we may never see in person can broaden our views in profound ways. If I have never seen mountains or the ocean, photos of them – if I really look at them and imagine being there – can broaden my perspective and give me new desires and goals for travel.

Photos of people have their own transformative power. Close-ups provide views we can’t experience any other way. Diversity of people across the world reveal both our shared and divergent characteristics and experience. History is illuminated in the faces and bodies of human beings. Photos taken by others can make us aware of realities that we didn’t know about, or bring to life something we had heard or read.  A powerful example of this is the impact that the images transmitted across the country and the world of some of the violent episodes during the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s.  The dogs attacking children. Crosses burning in front of homes.  A 6-year old African-American girl walking to a previously all-white school with white adults screaming at her, and national guard soldiers with guns guarding her. The bloated, beaten body of Emmett Till in his casket after being murdered in Mississippi. And many more.

Those photos awakened millions of people to realities they had only read about.  They transformed how people saw their country.  It activated enough people to act over time that changes occurred. This happened with other historical events as well, such as the Vietnam War.

Photography we view can transform in these ways and more.  The person taking the photos experiences another level of transformation. As a compulsive photographer, I find myself seeing things I want to capture in a photo all of the time.  This includes while I am driving on the freeway at 70 miles per hour! I dream of having a camera mounted on the top of my car with the ability to turn it in the direction I want and zoom in through controls on my steering wheel like I control my hands free phone.

But even if I can’t stop, I have noticed. The photographer’s eye for images counteracts the auto-pilot that so easily consumes us in our busy lives.  We see things that others may just drive by. Looking at our own photos  helps us see and reflect on our lives, our experiences and what we may want in our future.  A photo may be worth a thousand words, or a changed mind, or a dream and focus for the future. Photography has the power to transform.

Here is an example of how photography can illuminate history and broaden our perspectives.  Through the African American Lens: Double Exposure   is the first in a series, and available at Amazon.com through my affiliate link.

 

 

 

 

Transforming Your Life With New Experiences

One of the greatest gifts of our years over 50 can be having the time and flexibility to do things that we weren’t able to do when we were younger and in the thick of career building and child rearing. It may allow more travel for leisure and excitement, or learning a new skill and practicing it, or volunteering regularly to give back and help others. All of these and other activities enrich us and can be factors in transforming your life by opening up possibilities and igniting passions of which we were not aware.

I recently participated in a project that I never would have imagined I would be interested in just 10 years ago. For the 5th time, I participated in a prison ministry in another state. This is the 2nd time the trip has been for an entire week. It was a week of travel in vans from Tennessee to Ohio and back, daily travel to different correctional institutions from the hotel and back – a total of 1600 miles. At every one of the seven stops, our team of sixteen had to go through security and have all of the multiple cases and containers of sound equipment and instruments meticulously examined. Then there was the set-up in a wide variety of types of rooms and soundcheck to assure the best projection possible in that room.

Through personal handshakes and greetings, hugs, fun music, an appearance by Santa, inspirational music, humor, words from a pastor, and communion, we communicated and embodied the message, “You are loved, you have worth, God is with you.” In and through that, both those visiting and those being visited were touched, changed and even transformed.

You may be asking, how have these experiences transformed my life, and why did I even consider getting into this? During my life, I had experiences that left me with no real desire to go into prisons. I appreciated those who did prison ministries of various kinds, but it wasn’t something that appealed to me. Some of those experiences were living for 40 years in the inner city where crime rates were high, being a victim of several crimes during those years, having friends victimized, and then working for nearly 20 years in the crime prevention unit of the police department.

When I moved from Minneapolis, MN to Nashville, TN, I got involved in a progressive church which had an affiliated non-profit ministry to prisons. Gradually the stories of the impact of these visits and the urging of the director pushed into my heart, and I agreed to go on one of the “friends” tours that brought about 40 members of the church along on 3 days of a 7-day tour. After that, I wanted to participate every time possible because I saw the world and people differently. I wanted to be a part of bringing light into dark places like prisons in ways that were life affirming and inspiring, not shaming and fear-based. The letters that come back from the inmates who have experienced these programs are filled with new hope and gratitude. Many reflect an impact that lasts, not just a one-day reprieve from their situation. Amazing!

I encourage you to look at places in your life where you have drawn lines and seen other people as totally other, totally different than the people with whom you ordinarily surround yourselves with. Step out, try new experiences, see what happens in your life. Transforming your years after 50 can start with taking that kind of step beyond what you already know.

If you would like to learn more about this outreach ministry, go to http://timothysgift.com