Chasing the Light- How I Found Photography.

Ever since the age of seven, photography has always captivated me due to the fact that one can capture a time or freeze that special moment and retain it as long as the medium lasts. Photography, as you probably know, is derived from the Greek, “photo,” meaning light and “graph,” meaning writing. The idea of photography without light is a nonsensical notion. Photography has nothing to record without light. However, I put photography on the back burner; at that time I did not think that photography would be my career of choice so my interest focused on Herpetology with my nose in reptile and amphibian field guides. Until the fall of 2009, I “found the light” at the North Carolina State Fair, and ever since I have never stopped chasing the light.

The fair offered a plethora of things for the imagery details to capture. After going through the gate, the first thing I saw was a turkey leg station; smoke rising up into the clear blue sky as the rack rises from the depths of the cooker. Grease dripping from the turkey legs and the smell of the smoker drawing in hungry mouths that happened to walk by. I did my best to keep up with my youth group but it was hard not to be entranced by this amazing display of food. Around the corner came shouts from carnies telling people that guests should play their twisted games. Psychedelic music plays as some attempt to capture visitors in their web of lies such as the world’s smallest woman or the largest alligator. The carrousel, the icon of fairs and carnivals all over the world, towers over the fairgrounds. It casts a shadow over the park like a big brother making sure everyone is having fun and being safe. As people weave in and out, the show of human behavior is on stage, moms are stressing out as they try to keep up with their kids, and a girl smiles big as her boyfriend wins her a teddy bear that will not even fit in their car.

As the sun slowly disappeared below the horizon and the shadows of the night chased away the sunlight, children with their eyes wide open, watched in awe as the lights of the attractions dance across the sky. Rides glowed with a ray of colors clothing the metal contraptions as they zigzag and swirl. As the youth group got on a ride I stayed behind and David, the youth leader, called out to me to come with him. We walked on the other side of the ride, with its bright lights and people sitting, not knowing if they will be able to keep down their lunch. I began to wonder why David brought me here to this unappealing ride. It was a single pole that held three spinning arms with nine seats attached to each. With my small point-and-shoot Canon in hand, David proceeded to teach me how to slow down my shutter speed. Once all the settings were calibrated, I framed up the shot and the magic was something so glorious that I still have not calmed down. Within this image is a ride, but the ride is not stationary or frozen in time. Dancing across my LCD screen are trails of light from the ride; in fact, the ride appeared to be nonexistent; the lights like ghosts illuminated the ground and the scene. Colors ranging from red, green and blue showed the vividness that typical of a state fair. In one shot, I had finally captured the light and understood how photography worked.

Finding the light for me was an exciting experience. The light breathes life into my work. Every time I photograph, it is not the same experience, but I strive for that very same feeling that I once had. Just like my camera, I can see things as illuminated objects or shapes. That fall night at the state fair after I had captured that image in the same way, photography had captured me. That night I decided that photography was my calling and that my career would be chasing light.


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