Spirituality. Is it the “aaah, haaa” moment you get that helps you recognize something out of the ordinary in yourself and the way you perceive life, behave, act?
In one definition, spirituality, and the meaning of it, touches that part of us that is not dependent on material things or physical comforts.
As a photographer, I express my own spirituality in the way I perceive, stop and listen, and act through the images I see with the lens of my camera. I meet people and stop to frame their presence in a way that is consistent with my feelings and convictions. While looking for angles, I thrive in recognizing the details, shapes, and emotions. And I recognize stories in each photograph – my own and those of the subjects I consider.
In my spiritual journey the images themselves offer a window into who Rajmund Dabrowski is. Yet I don’t ask if my images have the proverbial 1,000 words. Some of them do. When you see a meaning, you know, and others recognize it, too. In a sense, the images are as honest as the reality they capture. And you know when they … take you away.
My life’s geography as a photographer is also explained in the influence or affirmation of my own values, hopes and personal vulnerabilities. My authenticity-driven imagination and creativity goes into fifth gear and is on display. Each image is given an attire of a story. It is laced with mystery.
The Johannesburg-Cape Town flight was like any other. I put a newly-purchased photo album of Bob Gossani’s “Tauza” people, and a couple of new South African CDs on the seat next to me. A gentleman was seated by the window. He turned to me and started a conversation, expressing interest in my music choices and in the art photography.
A friendship developed instantly. Victor Honey was a university professor of art, and I was invited to visit him and his wife, Hester, when I came to South Africa next. Two years later, on yet another visit I was offered a treat. Victor said: “Let me show you the real Stellenbosch, not the one for tourists.” He took me to a township within the city, a rather impoverished part, where for years he was conducting after-hours classes for children when it was not permitted to do so during the ugly days of Apartheid. He showed me a building, where every week he continues to teach art to children, and said: “This place is my mission in life.”
His words resonate with the way I am and what I encounter. My own story becomes richer when I become present to the moment I am in.
Henry David Thoreau said aptly, “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” This resonates with another, closer-to-home reminder, and in God’s words: “Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is …” [Isaiah 43: 19-20 The Message.]
My best work happens when I seize the moment. My eye, the lens, and being present to what I see and hear, align. Such alignment moves me into “listening” to what I am seeing. In being alert and attentive, I discover newness, hope, and perhaps the reaffirmation of things that matter and continue to make me who I am.
In the words of Leo Tolstoy, “In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.” And take a picture of it. It will be a reminder of the things to come. But for now, it may even create a monster of a change for a better world, a world where values of your faith are expressed through love.
*Published in Spectrum, Volume 39, Issue 1, Winter 2011. Spiritual Journeys. Editor: Bonnie Dwyer. Designer: Laura Lamar. www.spectrummagazine.org
Photography © Copyright by Rajmund Dabrowski, 2011.