The Road goes ever on and on down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can,
pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the epic fantasy, The Lord of the Rings.
(This is a series of posts on Jan Phillips’ book, God is at Eye Level, Photography as a Healing Art.
For an intro check out the first post here.)
New Images for a New World
Chapter eight of Jan Phillip’s book talks about how our images are teaching tools. Honestly, I hadn’t really thought about the root meaning of the word document (docere) is “to teach” so this is a timely chapter as I continue my quest to document my father’s battle with Alzheimer’s. Often when I tell people that I’m working on this project the immediate question is “How do you photograph something that’s happening inside their brain?” The above photo was captured on one of our walks on the farm, and when I saw the gravelled road laid out in front of him through my lens, the thoughts of his life ahead of him spoke volumes to me. What does he think as he walks on the land that he’s loved and tilled for over sixty years? Or when he sits in the sun in the living room and looks out the window for hours in total quietness? Or at night when he sits in his lazy-boy chair and says…Can we go home tomorrow?
To me this is the true meaning of photography; the ability to create an emotion. An image that can change the way we think, move us to tears or laughter, or to action. Jan phrased it perfectly for me. “When we set out to document something, we are tasked with revealing the essence, the true spirit of it, as we see it and feel it in our bones; for the more truth a photo contains, the more potential it has to touch the heart.”
She closes the chapter with a profound statement that all of us can use in our photography… “Every time we ‘load a roll of film into our cameras’ we can choose to contribute something valuable to the global family album or add to the stockpile of meaningless imagery.“ Wow.
Next up: Chapter Nine – Life Seeking Life
Joining in for the very first time? Catch up on the previous chapters!
Chapter One – Through the Eyes of a Child