Nothing, Then A Moment

A quiet moment.
A quiet moment.

Like any other aspiring photographer, I too get tired of the familiar. I’m talking about those places where we tend to spend too much of our limited photographic time in the hope that on any particular day, that great photo opportunity will simply appear before us. Most of the time, it is a total waste of our time. Same thing, different day. But every now and then, something happens. A spot that we have photographed a thousand times without ever liking any of the photos taken, suddenly rewards us with a moment, a keeper moment, if you know what I mean. Hard drives full of photographic junk immediately evaporate from our consciousness, and for a moment (but what a moment), that simple click becomes the justification for endless hours wasted in pursuit of a reason to get behind a camera again. Perfection? Not by a long shot. Satisfaction? Oh yes. Such was the case with this photograph. A familiar deck in Alexandria that I have photographed seemingly a million times before, but only for what seemed destined to my photographic junk pile. I have photographed the deck from every side and from every angle short of being on a boat in front of it. Nothing. Nada. Photo junk. And then this guy shows up. I watch him walk towards the deck and I just stand there waiting for something, anything, to happen. Pack down, leg up on the bench. Click. Moment over. An imperfect photo for sure, but one that reminded me that being there to take the photo is ninety percent of the way to making great photographs. We just have to keep showing up.


Everyone has a morning ritual, but lingering by a river at daybreak has to be near the top.
Everyone has a morning ritual, but lingering by a river at daybreak with a cup of coffee has to be near the top.

I am here today to defend the proposition that there is no better part of the day than the early morning hours of a day.  That’s right, I am taking a stand.  And yes, this is a subject that is much ignored by most folks, but in the name of the pursuit of happiness, I feel that it is my duty to openly declare that those fleeting hours when the sun begins to appear over the horizon are about as close to heaven as we will get on this earth.  They are poetry incarnate, manifesting a choreographed rhythm replete with rituals, lights, beginnings, and discovery.  When we wake up (and no matter our speed of movement), we tend to do the same things every day, even if during the rest of the day we proudly profess not to be the victims of routine.  It is those little things we do without fail that make morning so special.  Eyes opening with the first light, setting those same eyes on a loved one, laboring in the kitchen, and going through our mental checklist for the day.  It is busy time, but busy with new beginnings and the hope that today will be better than yesterday.  So there you have it: I’m officially issuing the “morning is best” edict, so we all better start enjoying them a little bit more.  Still skeptical? Just ask the fella sitting at that bench.

Winter Calm

A serene atmosphere sets in by the river banks during cold, winter days when the crowds disappear won't dare to venture outside.
A serene atmosphere sets in by the river banks during cold, winter days when crowds disappear and life seems to slow down to a crawl.

Something good always happens in our national capital region when a snow storms forces most of the government to shut down for a few days.  For starters, the entire region’s stress level comes down a notch or two.  Bureaucrats get to enjoy a paid day off courtesy of the taxpayers and the environment gets a bit cleaner thanks to tens of thousands of commuters staying home for the day.  What’s more, a sort of calm sets into the area with the falling snow, giving people a chance to reconnect with themselves and the place where they live.  It may not be quite enough for advocates of the Slow Movement to label Washington, DC as a Slow City, but it’s nice to experience for a day or two what all that slow stuff is all about.  I’m digging it.