24 August 2012

The Truth About the Shutter

August 22, 2012. 8:29 PM. An afternoon in the sun has left me with a headache, photos and questions. Overall, not bad.

The questions started almost immediately upon arising this morning. Well, maybe not questions exactly, so much as whispers. What do I need to do? What am I going to do? Perhaps critically, what do I want to do?

Those questions were not to be answered in the morning, not with a shower to be taken and breakfast to be made and eaten. It is that initial rush of activity that I have so much trouble initiating yet paradoxically it makes me feel so much calmer to get them done. It is a quirk of mine that I usually feel a free-floating anxiousness until I shower. The day just does not seem to get off the ground until that happens. Consequently, the later in the morning that I take a shower, the longer I feel antsy.

I really should put that aside.

But it was done. Then it was a few minor life management activities interlaced with a wee bit much of web-surfing. The drawback to that crow mind I have. Next thing I knew it was lunch time. Crept up on me again, damn it.

Even lunch could not remove that vague disquiet I felt. I ate alone, chewing and thinking, trying to put my finger on that thing that seemed to be gnawing at me. No dice. I took a short nap, thinking I was just fatigued. While I was refreshed, I still felt like I was missing something.

The cameras decided for me. Two in a bag on the floor, one sitting on the shelf nearby, two rolls of film and a blank memory card. I stared at the bags for a few minutes, restlessly shifting my feet while chewing my bottom lip. The sun tracked across the floor.

That was it. I needed to be outside, looking through the lens or the viewfinder, chasing the light, diving into shadow. I scooped up the bags and headed out to my car. While driving into the city I felt my gut unwinding. The stiffness left my shoulders. I parked at the River Market and geared up.

Man, it felt good. A nearby trail takes me across the railroad tracks and down along the Missouri. The light was good, big blue bowl of sky with just the right amount of clouds. Hot day, but breezy. The air was humming with the sound of trains and birds. All I had to do was look, point and snap.

The truth was clear. The shutter gives me a raison d'etre, if I may be so indulgent as to say. Well, one of many raisons, this fascination with light and shadow and the capturing thereof. Like writing, the pursuit of truth as I see it through the lens is vital and necessary to my general well-being. 

I may never achieve artistic or commercial success by fulfilling this need of mine. But that is not the point my gut was trying to make. It was telling me to get out there and catch myself in the light and shadows. This is the truth of the shutter.


  1. I understand exactly. Some days the only thing that makes sense is what I see through the windows of my cameras.

  2. Oh yeah. Gotta do that creative thing that fills you up. This is how writing is for me. It's the one thing that, when I do it, I don't feel like I should be doing anything else. You have two things that fill you up creatively. Twice the good fortune. :-)

  3. i can relate to the feeling.... but i still havent found my calling yet i guess....


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...