Stillness In Motion

June 30, 2020

 

It is almost the first of July. In any other year, that is, in any other year not complicated by a pandemic, I would be sorting through a fresh batch of photos like the one here from the annual Tulsa Tough races. As it is, I am scrolling waaaay back in my folders to find images that feel even a little bit like a normal summer day. There just have not been very many normal-seeming days this year.

Life has not come to that proverbial halt exactly. And I can't accurately describe it as having slowed, either: there is still work (remote), kids to care for (and spend a lot of time with this summer!), dogs to walk. And yet I feel a certain stillness even in the midst of the motion of every day life. The moments that make up a day, normally as seamless as a well edited video, are not stitched together as tightly. I feel the slip of dark space between these moments in a way I am not accustomed to feeling them. I see them, brief blurs that pull me toward that which is focused, sharp: the next frame.

Which brings me to this shot of two criterium competitors. You will notice that these men are not perfectly in focus--my camera is often quick to back focus where there is fast motion. Instead they are prominent but soft in this frame. We can see them. We know they are there. But perhaps they are not so well defined as we might like. We know the numbers on their jerseys, but we cannot quite trace a finger around a solitary bead of sweat. The veins in their calves are like actors in an ensemble cast: impressive performance but no single player is going to get top billing in this show. On the surface, the moment lacks definition. 

And yet these two men are there, racing away, and we sense that. Their very softness tells us that they are headed somewhere. The lack of precision seems to say that we cannot really be certain about what happens next, only that we know that something will happen next. It might be out of focus, and that is ok. That moment will still be there. Months of virus-related shutdown into 2020, life looks different. It feels the way it feels to view this imperfect image of two men racing. And yet I really like this photo, like how it feels to sit with it, letting not just my eyes but my heart follow the riders toward another moment, whatever it might look like. 

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