I Simplified away all the other facets of photography, and then concluded that without beauty in everyday life we would all just kill ourselves. Upon finishing that sentence I realized I completely disagreed with whatever the hell I had just said.
Ever have moments like that? When the train of thought leaves the station without a known destination? That's not where I wanted to end up at all. What this told me is that I haven't given the subject enough thought.
I do believe that beauty in the everyday makes like more meaningful, and more worth living, but I don't think the absence of it would negate the point of life. I can't dive into every facet of photography today, since I'll never finish writing this, but I do want to think about sight. As a necessary trait for survival, and as an overwhelming sense it is easy to take for granted, but I truly do cherish it.
Vision is the most dominant sense for almost everyone (with some really amazing exceptions, for a good time look up "people using echo location"). Vision is so powerful it even follows us into out sleep. (I don't know about you, but I don't dream much in scent, taste, or touch). It is so universal that it is easy to forget.
It's just like this joke. There are these two goldfish hanging out.
The first goldfish looks to the other and asks "How's the water today?" to which the second goldfish replies "What the heck is water?"
When something is so constant, it is easy to forget about.
But like most people, I had to realize what I was missing before I appreciated what I had (Humans are kind of dumb that way). I did not realize how much I loved simply looking until I got my first pair of glasses.(Another example is breathing. I once had a terrible asthma attack sent me to the hospital. I remember not being able to walk to the bathroom without being completely winded. I mean sit down and take 5 minutes to catch my breath kind of winded. Since then I sometimes take time just to enjoy breathing).
I got my first pair of glasses in the 4th grade. Oval frames, with turtle shell coloring on the ear pieces. I remember wearing them in the car and seeing the twigs and leaves up in the canopies flying by. Every little thing was incredible, not because I couldn't see it before, but because now I could see it from further away than 5 feet. Because suddenly I could sit still, and the entire world around me was real and in focus. The world was so sharp and defined I couldn’t help but look and look and look.
For anyone with really good vision, having bad vision is not like being blind, it's just like looking at an out of focus photo (which in my opinion are not really worth looking at). But it wasn't just trees and morning dew on grass that I was missing. I was missing was faces. (I was a pretty shy child, so I wasn't so inclined to get super close to people's faces). Can you imagine not being able to see faces? Sure I could tell if someone had a head on their shoulders, but the true image of that person eluded me. Plus, How much of communication is body language, and how much of feeling comes from seeing facial expressions? (a lot). Poor vision was robbing me of so much more than I knew.
When I got my glasses, suddenly everyone had a face. I could look around the classroom and see what people were feeling. I could see the confusion and furrowed brow of someone trying to understand math (It was a few years ago that I got new lenses and looked around my calculus class to see these kinds of faces. In fifth grade I was a little preoccupied with day dreaming. I remember my daydreams completely over powering my actual vision, which only returned when I would get called on by my teacher)).
The more I have gotten the ability to see, the more I have found there is worth looking at. It makes vision hard to take for granted. And that's what photography is to me. It is vision, not just by working with similar properties as the eyes, but by extending the universe of things we have to see. It is a way to not only cherish our vision, but a way to share it.