Tuscaloosa, Alabama

“Existence takes on meaning only when you give it meaning by making it meaningful… And how do you make it meaningful? By listening to those almost secret voices within you that, at certain critical times, whisper, ‘This is me.’ In those moments, it is important to consciously note what you are doing and do more of it, a lifetime of it, in fact.” ~ Robert James Waller, Old Songs in a New Cafe.

I was not meditating on a mountainside when I took this photograph. There was no lightning bolt that crashed from the heavens and said, “Here is the meaning of life.”

Instead, I was shooting a cocktail party for Tuscaloosa Magazine, just another Friday evening in an average photographer’s life. Representatives from Sotheby’s and Christie’s mingled with art collectors, dealers, and museum curators from across the country as they sipped champagne while the sounds of soft jazz and laughter wafted across Lake Tuscaloosa. Periodically, I would push myself into the throng, shoot, jot down names, then retreat to the party’s edges to regain my reserve.

It was in one of these moments that I spotted this structure. Intrigued, I allowed myself to be drawn to it, to gaze out at the placid waters and let the world fall away. To be centered. I don’t experience that very often. I often find myself crashing from one disaster to the next. But lately, especially in noisy or confusing events, I find myself spacing a bit — dropping effortlessly into a state of flux. Shoot. Breathe. Shoot. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Photography. It saves my life sometimes.

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