Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Mirror Lies

Bill Raab left an interesting comment on my blog when I started A Beautiful Conversation.  He wrote:   Being a photographer I see beauty in people more than I had before I ever started photographing them. It's a blessing.  Bill is a photographer and owner of Exposed to Light Photography.  Learn more: http://exposedtolight.com/.  I was curious about Bill’s insight, and asked him if he would respond to this question:

                “As a photographer, what does it mean to reveal beauty in another person?”  

There is a way we see each other that is different than what one sees in a mirror. I am guessing it is a God given gift that when we meet with and talk to someone we just overlook the physical imperfections that the person who wears the face is so keenly aware of… from looking in the mirror.
Our eyes, created by God, are infused with His handiwork. They are amazing. Mirrors created by man are infused with his handiwork. Men (and women) are all too quick to point out each other’s faults and imperfections.  Why should we expect mirrors to be any different?   God, I believe, gave us eyes with which to admire His creation and to help and guide us through this earthly life.

As most things go we as men and women can twist God’s creation… and we do.  I believe what we see and how we perceive it is directly related to the presence of God in our heart. I also believe it is related to our ability to see His handiwork just as it is… work done by the hands of God. We are all wonderfully and fearfully made.

“God did not screw up when He made you. He’s a God that loves to parade you.” --By Delirious?  from Our God Reigns

As a photographer who often photographs young women I have witnessed their carrying the mirror image of themselves rather than the God created image they bear. One can hardly blame them. We have all seen the magazines, the ads, the movies, which show us all how we should look. 

I often run into people uncertain of their appearance. I have been blessed with a knack for making people feel comfortable in front of the lens. I hardly recall purposely considering how to compose an image based upon someone’s physical imperfections. Maybe it makes me a poor photographer but mainly I just do not see them.  When it comes to being behind the camera I see:  joy, love, grace, beauty, hope, courage, life and much more at times. I think all of our eyes were made to see in this way. It is how God created them.

I see people insecure in their looks and while I can only do so much re-assuring when I am with them, my prayer is that when they see the pictures they begin to see what I have seen. The way that is possible is that I try to capture moments that exhibit the essence of the person. Images that show who that person is… not just what they look like. 

I have photographed stage 4 cancer patients and I saw beauty, and they see it too in the images. It is not by my magic, it is not by the camera I use. It is the result of seeing with the gift God has given me and translating that to an image of a person that embodies that vision.

We, all of us, every person on this planet, and every person that was ever on this planet were all made in the image of God. Yes, it is hard for us to grasp hold of that. Yes, it is hard to live in that space. Yes, it is hard to see each other in that light. But it is true and it is a core truth of our lives.
Beauty moves from the inside out. The best image I make of anyone is when I can get them to move to a place of comfortableness that they can be who they are and the inside, gets out. It happens, I have seen it. The person so certain that they are anything but beautiful becomes the very image of the beauty that God has created in her, or him.

Is beauty only skin deep? Hardly… that is something a man once said and man continues to buy into. True beauty is created by God and it runs deep. When we see in the way God has intended us to see, we can see this beauty in each other. When we view each other through the eyes of man that have been trained by man we miss so much.

This image is of my brother in law Chip, taken Christmas Eve of 2009. We did not know that in a few short weeks he would be diagnosed with cancer. Nor, those in about 8 months he would be gone. He would never think of himself as beautiful… but he didn’t see himself the way we all did. But, he saw us all the way we saw him.

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