I am a photographer. No, not a professional picture taker, but a hack-a-day amateur snapper of images. Just the same, photography has taught me many things. Mostly, it gives me a sense of great calm. A serene feeling of bliss. A few moments to enjoy the peace as a few ticks of the clock pass with zero distractions, the absolute absence of life’s chaotic noise, and the vivid rush of living a rich, colourful, creative life. More specifically, it has taught me how to see. It forces me to have patience. It demands that I absorb the moments in life that are the really important times when in fact you should be paying closer attention.
Freezing moments in time with a camera can be fun and rewarding. It teaches you to ‘see’ things with a crisper intent. Light, colour, shadows, contrast, stillness, motion – all contained in the expansive vistas or tight portraits – are there to capture your imagination. You slow down and eliminate all the hustle and bustle. You stop to catch the details and become an observer of the world around you. All too often, folks rush in a frenzy and fail to notice the serenity and beauty of the world. Finding the ‘moment’ is almost a spiritual practice.
It takes practice to see the minutiae that envelops our lives. It takes a mindful focus to simply, stop. The yin and yang of nature demands that life has both horror and beauty, so these two opposites amplify each other and the stark contrast helps to define what we understand. Most of the time, life can seem to be boring, but with some concentrated effort, it is easy to observe anything and everything that truly excites the imagination. It is there, you just have to look. We must have an abundance of patience to wait for those unique moments to arrive.
When those extraordinary moments do present themselves, even when I have my camera in hand, I force myself to catch my breath and wait. Sometimes, I do not even snap the shutter at all. I just watch and allow the moment to penetrate my mind with whatever I have discovered. Sometimes, the very best camera is the one in your mind.
For example, many years ago, I was sailing with a friend in the Caribbean off of the romantic island of St. Lucia. Suddenly, an enormous humpback whale surfaced not more than 30 feet off the starboard side of our 48′ sailboat. The whale looked bigger than the boat. It blew out its blowhole and we were instantly drenched with salt water and the putrid smell of rotten fish. I think I saw the whale smile. These cetacean are known for their charming antics and energetic performances, which are always a delight for onlookers – if you are out of range of its vile spray.
For a instant, I thought – quick run below and grab your camera – the whale was so close, it was almost frightening. Then, a second thought hit me. What if while I am below collecting the camera and switching lenses, the whale submerges and I miss it? So, I decided to stay put at the rail and just watch the sea creature play as it splashed dangerously close to us. It swam along side of us for perhaps 5 minutes and then just as quick as it arrived, it dove below the water and was gone. I scanned the horizon in all directions and could not see it resurface. I was sad to see it go. But, no photo could ever replace the memories of that humpback whale and its playful dancing in our boat’s wake.
Sometimes, you need to put the camera down and simply be intoxicated by the moment. Those seconds will not come again. They are rich memories that are persevered as vividly as any photograph.
Sure, I wish I had snapped a picture or two. But, the risk was too high. Time waits for no one. They would be gone as quickly as they appeared. I elected to embrace the moment and just watched. The cameras laid waiting for another day. In my imagination, I can easily see the beast and its playful joy of seeing us too.
About the Author:
Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for applications that use broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies. He is a business and technology consultant. He offers his services on a contracting basis. Over the past 15 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX). Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V). He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology. He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section. He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 20 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.