Life through a lens….and the photos we don’t take…

I spend much of my life with a camera in hand. Perhaps, in many ways, I live my life through the lens. I find a joy, a simplicity, a rich and varied magnificence in nature, and while I could happily gaze into the night’s sky, or be drawn into a mesmerised reverie as I drink in the sunlight as it sparkles upon the water, there is something about photography that seems to give a permission to stop in the midst of a hurried world and slow down and take notice.

And yet, somehow, for those of us who do have a passion for capturing life’s moments in an image, that can be developed and shared and brought to life through fresh eyes and new stories, perhaps unwritten and yet to be told…the question still remains: are we mindful of the balance that there must be between the images we capture and the photographs we do not take?

There is a beautiful scene in the film ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’. If you have not yet watched it, I can only recommend that someday you do.  Without giving you a synopsis of the film, or painting too detailed a picture of the characters, let me take you gently to a poignant moment within that scene:

Walter is sitting silently with the elusive photographer, Sean O’Connell, atop a snow covered mountain. Even more silent is the beautiful snow leopard that O’Connell has been watching. He tells Mitty that the snow leopard is known as the ghost cat, as it ‘never lets itself be seen…beautiful things don’t ask for attention’.

This is a rare moment. The leopard is stunningly close to Sean O’Connell and Walter Mitty. O’Connell is poised and Mitty asks him ” When are you going to take it?”  O’Connell replies, “Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it”. Mitty probes, “Stay in it?”, and O’Connell quietly response, “Yeah. Right there. Right here.”

It is a beautiful and thought provoking moment. One that draws me to reflect on the life lived beyond the lens. As much as capturing moments is a passion of mine, to live in them, truly inhabiting a moment fully, is surely what life should be about…… ?


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