When I was little, I used to dive deep under the water when swimming, then come up to the top as slowly as I could, creeping toward the surface, my arms extended behind me, my face lifted straight up toward the light above the water. I would try very hard to keep my eyes open as my face sliced through the water to the air above. I wanted to see the change occur. I wanted to witness the transition between the murky, private, silent fantasy below and less abstract world above. I wanted to see it happen so that I could pay attention to how everything changed shape and color and texture.

 

But my eyes always snapped shut just at the last second. Something about the sting of the light, or the strange feeling of water sliding across the surface of my eyes, always kept me from seeing the changes reveal themselves. Everything was just suddenly different.

 

My camera does the same thing. While I'm delving into that magical, private, silent fantasy of making pictures, I anticipate being able to see it change from "mine" to something that is shared, that is offered to others, that is defined and clear. But when that instant occurs, that fraction of a second when I take what is happening inside of me and turn it into something outside of me, the shutter betrays me, and a deep shade of black fills the viewfinder.

 

So I don't really get to see how things in the frame change during that moment when I make the picture.

 

A muscle might tighten, a mouth may soften, a breeze may shift ever so slightly. This is the part about photography that I love. It's what makes me move on to the next picture and the next and the next. Because the pictures reveal how things changed shape and color and texture and meaning in that quiet, private moment when I couldn't see. And then, after the darkness has passed, I am filled with a keener, more profound sense of what there is for me to know.