The moment every photographer fears
is when the river,
winding through grass as tall as your head, points
directly to the setting sun
or when the lion,
standing cross-wise in a warm
patch of light,
meets your gaze only for a moment
or when the woman,
dusty and out-of-breath from a
hard day in the field,
turns and smiles with white teeth,
full lips, and calm, dark eyes
or when cool days cause leaves
to fall on rocky paths in
stochastic sets of color
before you walk on a frosted morning.
that the camera is not at
hand, or the lens cap is on,
or there is nowhere to stop the
car, or that the settings are one
stop off, or that the focus will suffer.
because there is no
bringing back the sun from dusk,
and lions only look once, and it is
not possible to ask her to smile again
in the same way. And, frost melts.
Moments such as these can be reconstructed by poets
and relived by storytellers
and even enhanced by painters.
But, for the camera, they are gone.
Now, you realize that you collect
moments with the lens,
and you use images
to invite others
to stand by the river
or seek landscapes with lions
or look for beauty in dusty fields,
or be the first down forest paths.
This is photography.
The art that arises from perpetual fear.
29 May 2011
L. Powell, near Uis, Namibia