In photography, there are a number of rules regarding the background and foreground of a photograph. Some think the foreground is more important and should always be the focus. Some say it’s what’s off in the distance that matters most. Others just say it depends. I’d like to think the best photographs are the ones that are captured in the way you choose to see them.
But as much as I’d hate to admit, I do get caught up in what we think are the rules. I’ve gotten so fixated on what was directly in front of me, I saw nothing else. Other times, I’ve been so focused on the big picture dream, I had no realization of what was my here and now.
I’ve been struggling a lot lately on where to focus my attention. Should it be the reality of what is happening all around me, or the belief in a dream for a better life that seems so far off in the distance?
I recently had the opportunity to spend an entire week isolated from the sharp reality of what makes up my routines. I spent every day staring into the distance of the rest of my life. I submerged myself in my work with suicide prevention and mental health. And I let myself experience how incredibly beautiful it feels to believe in a dream.
On one particular evening I watched the sun set behind the edge of an Ohio sky. I sat on the bank of a pond with a beautiful fountain in its center sending water through the glow of an amber horizon. Sometimes I focused on the water, speeding through the air, splashing and reshaping. It separated from itself and broke into a million droplets only to repeat again.
Other times, I looked into the sun. The absolute magnificence of power. Steady, calm, holding the entire scene together with complete control of every breath.
But in the end, I chose to see both together. The way I wanted to see it. The way I wanted to capture it and hold it with me. I saw the foreground: busy, fine and sharp, constantly changing and endlessly rotating through a chaotic cycle of pattern. And I saw the background: anchored, strong and steady, borderless in its existence and yet in complete control of its intent.
There are a lot of rules around what we should focus on when capturing a photograph. But I think the best photos are the ones that are captured just as we choose to see them.
Craig is an award winning author, speaker, and photographer and was featured in the S-Word Documentary. You can learn more about Craig and his work at ThisIsHowItFeels.com.