“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
~Robert Frost – “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
There was something about the snow tonight. Not because its a rare commodity here, but something else…
The snow was strangely and utterly beautiful. In a way I have no way to truly describe. Other than maybe in those epiphany moments in movies like “The Family Man” where the character discovers that which he has been missing all along.
Maybe I have no epiphany, but something about the snow falling through the light from the streetlight or the sound of snow falling on the broad, rubbery-leafed magnolia trees was so extraordinarily beautiful than even I, the twenty-something guy who has been all around the world and back, was floored by a simple act of nature in a place that I have walked a million times in the past four years.
So, without a camera or anything – I had just filled two 4gig cards at a concert – I walked around campus in the falling snow. I walked and I walked. And I walked until the snow caked on me like it is encrusted four inches deep on my car.
And as I walked, I simply observed. The playful screams as guys playfully flirted with grils by throwing snowballs; the snow collecting in the patterns in the little crevices made by the deep bark on the trees; the way the snow swirls around the corner of the building and off the roofs like the fake snow in a theater play; the millions of footprints in the snow… and me adding my trail to the lot. The snow makes all the sidewalks disappear and the tracks quickly become blurred, eventually to be erased once more. Or even the most inanely simple things like the Starbucks cup left on the brick fence having been there so long the snow has drifted up one side and not the other.
The snow is indescribably beautiful tonight. And I have to strongly fight the urge to run back to my frozen car and pry open the door with my numb hands and run back to the scene.
But, then again, who would I be making the photograph for anyway?
And then I get to have my moment when my character in my movie gets to look up in awe of the beauty in the simple things. My epiphany is simple: I would be photographic for myself. For the love of the art and the love of the trade. And, at its most basic level, whether I’m shooting for a newspaper or the public relations office or a private client, I am photographing for myself… if not for my personal passion, there would be no job.
A simple-sounding epiphany but nevertheless a truth of intense personal consequence. Telling stories and showing people what I see… that is my mission in life.
I do not know if I’ll ever make money or be a rock-star photographer, but I know one thing for certain: I love what I do. There is something extremely right about what I do, it is where I find my greatest peace and relief… anything else is selling myself short.
So this is where I stay. And I count myself among the blessed.