Point of View

It was famed photographer Mario Tostino who I first heard define photography as “writing with light.” As my business is called Lightpost Communications and my blog here is called Lightpost, my chosen media for communicating have always been both prose and pictures. And so it was with delight that I came upon a thoughtful essay about photography the other day in the New York Times entitled “Through a Lens Sharply.”

Former magazine editor Dominique Browning, author of Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, and Found Happiness, which I had read earlier, wrote the essay about her newfound love of photography and the renewed perspective of life it has given her. Incredibly, the well traveled writer had never owned a camera until a friend gave her a simple point-and-shoot model a couple of years ago and she hasn’t quit pointing and shooting it since. While I don’t ordinarily share excerpts at such length Browning’s musings are too beautiful not to speak for themselves.

As she writes, “My pictures are evidence that I was there, that I cared enough to pay attention, that I noticed, and honored, those tiny miracles of life we are all given, along whatever path we have chosen to travel. Now, when I travel, I feel a simultaneous quickening of desire, and a thickening of time. When I scroll back over the photo rolls in my computer, I study my idiosyncratic way of seeing, and I find something I think of as my own sense of time, my own rhythm of movement through the world. It is slow, and getting slower, more deliberate, more mindful of small beauties.”

My camera roll is…a way of collecting souvenirs, which, like any trinket, might be meaningful only to me. And so what? I can scroll back through time, because of my camera, and remember where I have been, what I saw, whom I was with—and this isn’t limited to what I captured in an image. Each image triggers associated recollections, and they roll alongside, hovering around each picture.”

No one sees the world the way you do. No one. If you fall in love with a photograph, it is often because of a glimpse of recognition, even a pang of desire, that things were or should be that way—or that someone came close to seeing what you saw. The photographs we take hold a place in our personal narratives, like bookmarks. We know what led up to that moment. And only we know what came next.” What a point of view.