I love photography.
Like writing, photography is an art of observing, of seeing differently and more closely, and of seeking value even where it could easily be missed or assumed lacking. Of deciding how best to share the value seen with others who may not have noticed or even had the chance to see for themselves.
It’s an art of honoring, valuing, and validating.
I love doing that, sharing that, and learning from that, and I love how it all reflects God’s love for each of us, His desire for our return to Him and redemption into His kingdom. Broken things, broken people, still have beauty awaiting those who choose to find it.
“…The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)
Art is ably joined by music in celebrating this. “Give me your eyes for just one second,” sings Brandon Heath. “Give me Your eyes so I can see everything that I keep missing. Give me Your love for humanity.” Gungor likewise praises God, “You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us. You make me new, You are making me new.” These and other songs move our souls to love God and those made in His image.
While I appreciate music and other arts, though, I participate in writing and photography (few want to hear me play piano, and no one wants to see me dance). I give back to God those talents that He has given me, and I seek to learn them better that I might better praise and glorify Him. I love that He has accepted that gift and prepared a place for it in His work.
Lately, two videos produced by Canon have meshed well with these thoughts. The first, “Decoy: A Portrait Session with a Twist,” showed an experiment in which six photographers all took portraits of the same man, but each had been told a different story about who he was. Each photographer approached him with a different expectation, perspective, and assumption about how he should be seen and represented. Even though the man was dressed the same, the images seemed to be of different people.
“Give me Your eyes for just one second…”
The second video, “The Obsession Experiment,” showed three people – a non-photographer, a photography student, and the professional who shot the picture – looking at the same photograph and telling what they liked. Eye-tracking technology was used to map how their eyes scanned the picture as they sought to determine its value. The novice enjoyed the photograph and saw beauty in it, but the student spoke more deeply and meaningfully about what that value was and how it could be seen; his eye track showed much more activity than hers had, with more lines around it the whole picture and more concentrations at areas of particular interest. Her eyes seemed to show enjoyment, his appreciation.
The photographer, though, seemed enamored. He spoke adoringly about the photograph and the beauty within it. His eye track covered the whole image (completely in some areas) and revisited areas again and again. Counts showed that he had moved his eyes six times as much as she had, three times as much as the student had.
“Give me Your eyes so I can see everything that I keep missing. Give me Your love for humanity.”
What an amazing glimpse of how God sees us.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 (NIV)