Windowledge Remembrance

This first "new" week of blogging is going to be about my all time favorites (though there are more than just one week's worth. I always have such a hard time deciding!). What that also means is that these posts will be lengthier in text because every image has a story (of course) worth telling.

Often the photos that are my favorites are not the ones that sell well in the galleries, which is a testament to the fact that art speaks to the heart, not the head. Something technically correct and impactful can go unnoticed when compared to a quick snap of something that stirs emotion in the viewer. However, as with everything in life, there are exceptions to the rule. And this image in an exception for it happens to be one of my favorites AND one of my best selling.

The story: This image was taken while I was walking a lonely and deserted alleyway in Brugges (Belgium) about 6 years ago. I was still using a film camera at the time (that's important to the story) and my trusty Nikon N80 was loaded with ISO 400 color film (not slide film mind you, also important). Not really having a destination in mind I was just wandering the streets (my favorite way to see cities is to simply wander and see what happens) when I chose this particular alley to walk down. Again, no purpose in mind, I glanced up at the windows (about a foot above my head) and saw this wooden carved relief of Jesus carrying a cross in the window. I focused, took a few photos, and walked away (later discovering that the building was a local Abbey).

The amazing thing about the image is that it turned out at all.

I returned from my week long vacation and sent my film off to be developed (I had used a mixture of slide and regular film on the trip). Imagine my surprise and utter horror when most of the film came back extremely underexposed and in some cases utterly black. What had gone wrong? A little sleuthing revealed that my camera had accidentally been set to underexpose every image by 2 stops (making every image darker than expected) and because of the nature of slide film (having little latitude for mistakes) very few of my slide images turned out. I was saved, somewhat, by having used regular film throughout the trip but still, of the 18 rolls of film I took, I kept maybe 15 images. This was one of them.

Looking deeper: another thing I always marvel at is the ability of people to interpret meaning from photos. Certainly you can add meaning after reading the above story (miracle image, meant to be, etc.) but I had an astute artist friend once point out to me the repetition of crosses in the image - something I certainly did not notice at the time I took the photo. But indeed, if you look closely (beyond the actual cross), you'll see a second cross in the window that comes through high in the back and of course the forward window has a cross that forms the panes. This is an interesting religious connotation in that three is a powerful Christian (and other) religious number (from the standpoint of Christianity you have the major three in the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Thus, this becomes a very meaningful religious image as well.

Sometimes we don't always see everything that's right in front of us, but in the end what's meant to be seen is revealed - whether by accident, by the observations of friends, or by our own ability to look deeper. Another life lesson, perhaps?


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