When There is Nothing Left to Take Away
Years ago, while sitting in the rocker across from my father’s favorite chair, I looked up at his bookcase and took notice of a book that I didn’t recognize.
It was old. The pages were yellowed. And it read with a thick, sweet prose much like poetry, while being a story that I could get lost in.
The book was “Wind, Sand, and Stars”, written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in 1939.
So I ordered a copy for myself, began to read it, and found this quote in the midst of an enchanting story:
“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
The context of the quote is that of a young man, the author himself, reveling in the joy of piloting an aircraft on long journeys to Africa in the early days of aviation. His love for the wind, sand, and stars was that of separating himself from the distractions and doldrums of ordinary life. He wanted life pure, emotional, and was painting that scene in his own way through experiences and words.
I relate to some of those feelings. For a time I rode horseback for the U.S. Forest Service in the high Sierra Nevada mountains, daily flew to work in helicopters over desolate stretches of Alaska, and sought a fairly minimalist lifestyle where the raw experiences and relationships that I built were worth everything to me. Everything else was a distraction to the portrait of my life.
In my work as a photographer, my technical skills are growing. The camera is becoming a more natural extension of my eye, and my eye is more free to be aware of what it sees.
I’m not there to take pictures of a wedding. I’m there to capture images that show relationships, emotions, that express how you are feeling, and who you are together. I don’t care about the ‘moments’, rather what the picture tells someone about you in those moments.
Your wedding will bring you face to face with the most important people in your life, on the most emotional day of your life, and in the midst of more distractions than any other day of your life.
That same eye that wants perfection, wants to cut through those distractions to paint a portrait of who you are in the midst of your relationships with loved ones.
Those to me are portraits where we achieve perfection by taking everything away that isn’t essential. By letting the background fall out of focus, the unimportant details drop into the shadows, cropping the image down to what guides the eyes to the subtle expressions that tell us exactly what the portrait was supposed to tell us about you.
This picture of Erica and Joey does that for me. He was the encourager, the one who provided safe harbor by being steady and calm. And in this quiet moment together they were unaware of any eyes on them. It was their moment, and an authentic portrait of who they were as a couple.
If you see that in my work, then you know that you’ve found the photographer that can capture what’s most important to you.