Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Time to See

I have a couple of friends who are photographers (Brienne Michelle and Briana Moore). Both do fabulous life-style shoots as well as the bread and butter of many photographers, weddings. Sometimes, they do second camera work with a friend. The second camera person is the one who gets background and crowd shots while the main photographer is covering the action of a wedding – processional, first kiss, communion, recessional, etc. One of them – which one, I can’t remember – posted a comment on her blog a while ago lamenting an increasingly common dilemma for second camera people at a wedding trying to get reaction shots.

A reaction shot is the picture taken of someone in the crowd as they react to the action taking place. So, for example, a second camera would catch the tear in a father’s eye as his son stands bravely up front awaiting his bride. Or, perhaps, the mix of pride and terror on the face of a young mom as her flower girl toddles up the aisle dragging a reticient ring-boy son in her wake. You get the idea.

Anyway, the problem for the second camera person is that, increasingly, reaction shots are disappearing behind a phalanx of pocket cameras, flipcams, and smartphones as people take pictures of the action rather than see it. As sophisticated as the technology of these devices is, I can’t imagine that the picture that emerges could possibly be anything more than a pale imitation of the reality it portrays – but still, people would rather take a picture than revel in the real. And the simple act of taking a picture removes us one step from the moment – we become observers rather than participants. It gets even worse when we critique the moment because it isn’t properly composed in the micro-screen into which we are peering!

I am thinking that one of the gifts of Advent is the opportunity to put our cameras away and simply become present to the approaching glory. To take a slow walk towards Incarnation – open handed, willing to receive. To let life come to us rather than grabbing for it. To learn to see rather than watch.

Advent is a speed-bump in time – a chosen slowing to allow meaning to seep into the cracks and crevices of our busy-ness. A decision to become present and accounted for in the deep reality of our own lives. A willingness to respond to the wonder breaking in all around.

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