My daughter, Maddie, says I need a bit of color. She told me this after asking me if I saw everything in black and white. Not quite sure how to answer her question in words, I set about looking for color to share with her even before I had my morning coffee. Truth be told, I found it a difficult task.
It was not so long ago, that I could not see in black and white at all. The view from my lens unfolded in brilliant hues, snaps of reds and blues, deeply saturated greens. I could not imagine what it took to compose an image devoid of color. To strip away the distraction. To get down to the basic bones of a subject. I admired those artists that seemed to play with light and dark, shadow and highlight and that dangerous territory of photographic texture, with ease. Brave souls.
And then I took a trip to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. This is a place that changes you. It dares you to live in the quiet. It moves you to embrace those parts of yourself that you have annexed off. Those spots of shadow we all are sure are best left untouched.
Early one morning, I left my shoes on the cliff just behind the Big House, and scrambled down to stand on the rocky beach. Here, the Pacific Ocean throws itself wildly at the huge, age old, boulders. Here, the fresh water that flows down the mountains of Big Sur, through the canyon that divides Esalen in two, comes home to salt water. Two worlds happily collide. I closed my eyes. I felt the cool, smooth roundness of pebbles beneath my feet. I heard the thunderous, rolling, rythumn of the waves. I tasted the bite of sea salt on my lips. And when I opened my eyes again, the view through my lens had all gone black and white.
But, for Maddie, a bit of color.