I was about 19 when I first lost control – or, when I first realized I didn't have control in the first place. I was in love, or at least some discomfited version that's perceptible to a 19-year-old. He broke my heart, and I didn't know what to do.
I felt a depth I didn't know existed, a depth I've only revisited a couple times since. It felt volatile, vicious and entirely out of my control. In fact, that was what I was most afraid of – how I had absolutely no handle on the trembling abyss I faced.
It's only been over the past six months or so that I've learned that abyss – the one I was so afraid of at 19 – is always here with me. It's with me, within me. Just as the sun and the moon share the sky, so do the darkness and the light in my life. In our collective life. One day, I reach a peak I never thought I'd touch; the next, I'll be crushed by what feels like an insurmountable wave. Sometimes, on the most peculiar days, both happen. I've been frustrated by the ups and downs of my last half-year, but now I know it's just a potent lesson in accepting life as it wanders, spurts, stops, and propels forward again.
Through this process, the one thing that's made sense has been the clarity I've found – and captured – through my camera. The click of a camera shutter, and the fleeting flash of a moment it catches, serves as a foghorn in the storm. In my most confused and disorienting moments, using a camera is all that makes sense.
So, with that, I introduce the fifth photo in Anatomy of a photograph. Taken during a portrait shoot with two of my closest friends, No two ways shows a moment in which both are looking in opposite directions. It was an unexpected composition, and that, just like the lessons I've learned lately, makes it the special shot it is.
The composition is what I find most enticing about this photo. That both subjects are physically so close and yet looking in opposite directions creates an interesting dichotomy – it's not what you expect. It's both intimate and spacious as a result.
What's also interesting about this photo is that I was actually pretty nervous about the light that day. We were shooting toward the end of golden hour, right as dusk was hitting, and I thought I wouldn't have enough light to work with. But it turns out shooting a little later created a better, softer light environment. It really turned me on to the idea of shooting at the end of golden hour, even during dusk.
The fact that they're looking in different directions also keeps the viewer's eyes engaged in the photo: You naturally follow where their eyes are going, and since they're looking in different directions, your eyes are constantly moving around the photo. It's sort of a fun, circular experience.
You see this circular motion when looking at the photo in black and white. Whether you start with the top subject or the bottom subject, their gaze paired with their position – and the ensuing lines – brings your eyes back around whichever way. I think that's a nice energy to find in a photo.
I'm going to be honest, there is not much I don't like about this photo. I could perhaps have tweaked the exposure or aperture, but I'm really quite happy with it. Plus, these are two of my favorite people in the whole entire world – so that makes it even better.
This photo was one that taught me the perfection in letting go control. I remember the moment I took this photo, I thought, well, we'll see what happens. And more often than not, I've learned, letting go of your grip can lead to breathtaking things.
Coming into 2022, I remember telling myself – and others – that one of the biggest lessons I wanted to learn and internalize was becoming more comfortable with letting go control of things. As I try to do that, I'm learning that it's not just about letting go control. It's realizing that I don't really have that much control in the first place. That's a scary, but also relieving, thought. The unknown, the uncontrollable can feel like an abyss – but maybe it doesn't need to.
With love and light,
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