The Faces of Epiphany
How does Epiphany come to the modern photographer?
The word Epiphany derives from the ancient Greek tongue, meaning “striking appearance,” or an experience of sudden and striking realization within science and religion.
As surely as photographers are lonely pursuers of their art, each must seek their own individual path and methodus, or process, to inspiration. Can it be "F8 and Be There” where we wear our cameras, searching and waiting for a blinding flash of self realization?
Photojournalists sing this song, as perfect light meets the instant of opportunity. Timing is everything as is anticipation of the unseen.
Antipodal to ‘the moment’ is when the camera’s eye is opened for a lengthy time, and layers of light merge and compound beyond our ability to physically see…but not beyond our ability to hypothesize and anticipate.
Yet point-of-view may become the cause célèbre. The passage of footsteps beneath a curiously-lit glass staircase might provide the perfect illumination, a melding of reflection and trans-illumination. The definitive moment may also be transformed by the sheer force of composition in the finding of inspiration in the weaving of subtle agrarian mandallas or the centrist usage of church domes.
And yet, for many modern photographers, it is not the photos themselves but how they may be manipulated afterwards. Enlightenment may be found in the crunching individual pixels into a cohesive whole. Through the vigorous manipulation of color, curves, and contrast, the modern photographer searches for his epiphany behind a computer screen in post-production. Here the ‘happy accident’ meets the planning and perceptions of the photographic engineer at work.
Photographers fuel from both the subtle itch in the back of the mind’s eye, as well as the lightning bolt that strikes with blinding suddenness. Some choose control and the scientific method. Many others ‘kick the tripod,’ and watch what happens next.
In essence, photographic artists are creative spiders crawling about their artistic webs, spinning inner psyche into lost moments, now found in moments of Epiphany.
-© Glenn Steiner, Excerpted from The Art of Seeing 2013