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Photography and Wabi-Sabi

Yesterday I went out with my camera to capture a few images. I've been wanting to practice some new techniques using presets (and creating them) in Photoshop. I had earlier seen some mushrooms that popped up after the rain looking like good subjects. There were some tiny white flowers, too, and then off by itself in the middle of the lawn, a lovely little pink lily. My neighbor said they grow wild all over the place, but I've never seen one before. Naturally I pointed my lens at it for a few snaps.

Here you can see a before-and-after sample of the effects of one of the filters. I like it, but I'm not sure how well it will go for portraits. Still, I bettered my skills, and techniques can be adapted, so it's all good.

Sometimes you know about a thing for quite a while but you don't know its name. That's how it was for me with Wabi-Sabi.

Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese philosophy of life -- and therefore of art also -- which focuses on acceptance of three main truths: (1) nothing is ever perfect, (2) nothing is ever finished, and (3) nothing lasts forever. If you've ever taken a long walk through an autumn woods, pondering the cycles of nature, admiring the mottled patterns on the decaying leaves, and found yourself calmed but slightly nostalgic for something you couldn't even name, then you've got the idea.

It occurs to me that Wabi-Sabi explains why I love my collection of family portraits. My grandparents have pride of place on my living room wall, right above the TV. Mom and Dad and my sibs fill the rest of the wall, and my many nephews and cousins have the shelf above the sofa. Is my family perfect? Hardly! Is my family finished? Paused, perhaps, for a little quiet polishing in college, but I expect that in a few years we'll add some new members. Will it last forever? Well, my parents and grandparents are all gone ahead on the next adventure, and the rest of us will follow in time, so ... no, when the world ends, or perhaps considerably sooner, my family will end, too. I miss them all--the ones who are gone, and the ones who are still here, and even those I haven't yet met. And flawed as they are, I love them. Their portraits are precious to me, not in spite of their wrinkles, their extra chins, their flyaway hair, but rather because of it--because those things identify the people I know and love.

So take pictures. Take pictures of everything and everyone you love. And as a gift to those who love you, have your own portrait taken. You don't know how long you have to do it, so do it now. Not wishing to be morbid, but--yesterday afternoon while I was editing these very pictures, my Yard Guy came and mowed my lawn, and every last flower and leaf and mushroom you see here is in shreds now, curling up into oblivion. There you have it: Wabi-Sabi. Accepting and appreciating the beauty of the transient. #photography #portrait #wabisabi #transient


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