Perspective on a drive to work
A friend and I talked about perspective a few weeks ago and then last week, I found myself assigning my photography students a project on perspective. The assignment was not intentionally driven by my previous conversation and yet when things in my life pop-up repeatedly, I pay attention. Apparently, I need to be thinking about perspective, so here I am.
The photography assignment was to take three photographs of the same subject but from different perspectives. I let the students interpret this because perspective could be distance or view point and it could also be through editing, say color vs. black and white.
I drive about 18 miles to get to work everyday – backroads, rolling hills, lots of trees, beautiful countryside. Mornings are my favorite time of day. I like to leave early because arriving to work before everyone else, before the chaos and crazy loud voices, allows my spirit to settle into the silence and begin from a place of calm. That was my initial intention but over the past four years (minus 2.5 due to covid and teaching from home) my perspective shifted. By driving early, I was blessed to watch the sunrise through the days and months and seasons and watching that shift? That is calming enough and reason enough to get up early and drive.
The sunrises immediately beckoned me and I opened the camera on my phone, put the driver’s side window down, and touched the shutter button over and over while I drove. I didn’t look, just tap, tap, tap, tap. When I get to work, I quickly scroll and delete about 95% of the photos in a few seconds, saving the rest for a look another time.
There are four places along the drive that are key because at those junctures, the electrical wires are non-existent, the hills allow for widespread views, and the barn at one point adds just the perfect subject. I don’t photograph everyday, but many days, especially in winter, because the sunrises are so bright and colorful and grandiose and they take my breath away. Make me BIG smile.
All of these photos are not at the exact same time, close though. Anywhere from 6:50 – 7:25 in the morning.
The photos aren’t perfect. I can see blurriness due to the movement of the car and sometimes I have to crop out the edge of the road. On a few occasion, I got my rearview mirror in 10 out of the 12 photos and sometimes, there is too much movement and I see nothing but blurs. That’s okay though.
Because I like their perspective.
I like to watch the changes in the location of the sun, in the colors of the sky, in the height of the light over the months of the year, in the plants which surround the barn changing in the seasons, in the way the way rain puddles provide reflection or color or texture.
And this last one, this one is my favorite. The fog on the drive was heavy and provided the perfect cozy blanket on this cool spring morning.
I have four years of “drive to work sunrise photos,” which I need to go through and organize. Maybe by months or seasons or years. Or maybe just put them willy nilly together because I simply like looking at them in that order.
Some days, I want to pull over on the side of the road and just snap away, really intentionally and focused. Currently the grasses growing in front of the barn are this silvery-blue green and their color is spectacular. Between the yellow orange of the sun and silvery green and the brick red, I just want to stop and stand for about 10 minutes and bathe in that beauty. But it’s a two-lane road with no shoulder and traffic is moving about 45-50 mph. Too dangerous.
So all this talk about perspective with my friend and with my students made me think about these photos and how my perspective changes every morning and how I’ve captured those moments. I don’t think about my personal perspective, I don’t ask myself why I do the things I do, I just do them. Because I know if I don’t, I’ll think about those missed moments and I’ll have regrets. And I’ve learned, no regrets.
Just take the photo, even if you’re moving 50 mph down a backroad of Maryland and the you capture the rearview mirror and the road in the photo, you’ll also capture a little bit of yourself in that moment.
And you can look back, like I am today, sipping my coffee, getting lost in these silly barn photos with fog and sun and puddles and feel completely full. The photos are not award winning. They are not going to change lives or save lives or change the world. They are not important. But these photos bring my perspective back to calm. They allow me to breathe, deeply. They remind me to trust my gut, to listen to that voice that says, “Who cares? Roll down the window, snap a million photos. You’ll be glad you did.”