If there is one thing that we – as human beings – discussed for centuries and still elude to get the answer, it is the question:
What is the soul?
Everybody has some idea about it. Sometimes we know it is there. Sometimes we feel ist is missing. Interesting enough, we associate it primarily with living beings. However, once in a while, we come across things that are not alive, yet we feel these things have soul. We find soul in the way people make music (is it the sound or the person who has it?), we find soul in art made by craftsmen, we find it looking at paintings and sometimes also at photographs.
It seems like soul lacks scientific definition, it is something we can not point the finger to – yet it is visible in some things we do, some things we create. Things we do whole heartedly, with our complete skill set, seem to become imprinted with more than just the physics. They become art, because we gave something into them. They convey more than just the material. They become somehow more alive beyond the physical sphere.
But this is also true for some things we do not lay our hands on. Some things, left unattended, left alone for years, may become more interesting than they were when we left them. Old paint on a door, rotting, deteriorating, gets more character and speaks to some in it’s own language. They develop some kind of soul – or maybe it is different: we respond to them, our soul reacts and is drawn to those things. Our character, what makes us unique becomes more clear in those situations. We feel connected to those unanimated objects as if they were alive.
Sometimes what we see and what we react to, what we connect with, becomes the mirror of our soul.
We may not see the light of our soul itself, but in creating art, this light casts a shadow of what it really is.
Our photographs are more than just photographs – they are shadows, frozen in time, showing the scheme, the outline of who we really are. Learning the craft and making more photographs makes those shadows clearer, better, more engaging. Though it is not the light itself, those fleeing shadows we should value and learn from them. They tell us a lot about ourselves.
And this is why, if we want to create art, the process must be very personal. As photographers, we see something that deep within connects to us. We visualize something that is not there yet, something within us guides us to the point where we know how the picture is supposed to look like. The result of this process tells us not only something about what was there, but also about what we did see. And this seeing is fed by our inner self, our soul, by who we are. This is what makes us unique and we have to do, to call it art.
Art is the shadow, cast by the light of our soul.