Wisdom from the darkroom



The Book of Proverbs states “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

This past week I’ve been back in the dark room as a volunteer teaching black and white photography at a boy’s camp in central Maine.  Being in Maine in the summer is one of the best places I know to do something completely different and to work better habits of health and well-being.  Granted, it’s been 8 years since I’ve taught black and white photography.  The idea of having to re-learn a skill was a bit overwhelming at first.  Couldn’t I just volunteer in something I’m already confident in? Couldn’t someone else take this on? Underneath all of those worries was my fear of failing to teach the campers properly.

One of the first lessons in photography involves “point of view”.  Besides the mechanics of how the camera works- the shutter and lens- actually taking a picture presents the photographer with a couple of choices.  Do I focus on the subject or do I focus on the background?  Subject or background? Much like my conundrum, do I focus on the fact that I might fail or focus on the risk to relearn a skill from years ago? Fail or relearn? Wisdom is the exercise of choosing one’s point of view.  Fools despise it because it means taking a risk and possibly failing. Fools don’t take risks in learning. Fools are static and fixed.

Today we finished our first full cycle- take photos, develop film, make a print. As I watched the campers develop their prints, I noticed that their choices of either subject or background meant that no two photos were alike.  Each camper had their own point of view, even though they may have photographed the same building, or walkway, or waterfront, or chapel.  They had taken their risk to try something new and use their own point of view to literally make it real. They risked wisdom and are a great reminder to me to do the same.


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