Without The Frame, VI
This image is a result of pure dumb luck, as I am beginning to suspect the bulk of my images are. I was wandering the back alleys of Bhoda, just on the outskirts of Kathmandu, it was early morning, 6:30am, and the promised rainy season had just shown up. Truth be told I was in a funk – the kind that takes hold of me when I am in a place for an insanely short time and know that trying to feel-out the spirit of the place, let alone capture it in any meaningful way, is an insanely presumptuous task. It’s probably this very mindset that makes me manically search for the thing and which makes the thing itself so elusive. Trying too hard pushes the muse away.
Suddenly I looked up and saw this woman. Her fingers aren’t all there – there’re bits missing. You don’t have to look hard to see that life has been tough for her. She spent five minutes consumed by her devotion – lighting the butter lamps, swinging the incense, praying. She knew I was there, we acknowledged each other with a nod and a near-smile. I shot about 25 frames, my feet getting wet, no real sense of time. Mostly I just prayed she’d keep at her prayers long enough that my intrusion would result in an image that meant something, said something about her and her devotion.
You can’t plan these moments. They gobsmack you from your blindside. Slowly I am learning that creativity has its genesis in something, Someone, bigger than me – that it’s the process of seizing a small handful of convergent serendipitous elements the moment your muse taps you on the shoulder and says, “Hey! Wake-up! Look at that.” And in the in-between times when there is nothing to look at and you feel like your muse is off screwing around when she should be hard at work, those are the times when it’s natural to fret and stew about the images you’re currently NOT creating. But natural or not, that inclination has a tendency to stand in front of you, looming, and preventing you from seeing the moments that ARE there. Or that WILL be there, any moment, if we have eyes to see them.
It’s taken me a while, and I re-learn this lesson with each assignment, but the more I embrace the times when nothing is happening, and the more I stop searching for what isn’t there – the more I start seeing what IS there. And that’s the only thing you can photograph.