Photography and Sacred Space

I think many of you will agree that Pinterest is a fantastic place to find inspiration, trace long lost recipes, and source creative ideas. In short, it’s easy to fall into the proverbial rabbit hole and by the time you re-emerge, an embarrassing amount of time has passed. Sometimes, however, there are some interesting finds, especially when it comes to affirmations or words of wisdom like this one:

source: Pinterest

It got me thinking about this, that, and the other; especially that and the other. My mind wandered, and it tends to do that a lot these days, into unknown dimensions and got me thinking about midlife, the afterlife, and basically just life. We come into this world on borrowed time, and spend half of it wasting time wishing we had more, or something different. Why is it that we are never really satisfied with what we have, or better yet, why we rarely find the courage to go after what we really want.

Antiquated social norms dictate that we should pass certain milestones to be deemed fit for human consumption, or social consumption. Some would refer to this as having Ann acceptable social or emotional quotient, but whatever the term, it comes with a set of standards that imprison us within cultural and gender boxes for a lifetime. Unless we break out and break free.

Dreamcatcher (v2022) ©FrogDiva Photography

It is the overwhelming social and psychological norms that can be so debilitating at times as we struggle to keep up with expectations and demands from family, peers, and employers, making us wonder if we ever really become our authentic selves at any point in our lives. I’ve learned that the only way to do so is to turn your back on these expectations and live life on your own terms. It may not be the easiest path, and it is painful at times, and certainly inconvenient. but if you are free from living under the pressure of someone else’s demands, then you are doing something right.

Let’s circle back to these mandatory milestones – beginning with the educational system. It doesn’t really matter where you attend school, the fact that you are part and parcel of a system and institution ensures that you will have to live up to a grading curve, learning levels, social cues and etiquette. In Kindergarten, for example, by the time you are five years old you are expected to have learned to say please and thank you, to share your toys, not throw food at the other children, and not vomit on your teacher. In Primary School, we go through the torture of learning our alphabet and numbers, which progressively gets more painful as we grow older, because then we have to learn how to string the letters together to form words, and then God forbid, sentences and (gasp) paragraphs! Before you know it we are slaves to emails, reports, presentations, applications, articles, books, and so on. The crux of the matter is that it all has to be coherent, and in some cases, impressive!

Then there are the blasted numbers, and all the mathematical issues that come with them. After Kindergarten and Primary School comes High School, and then university, then work, marriage, parenthood, and so on. You get the drift. Life is already pre-programmed for us by simply being born into a family and being sent to school. Our milestones are laid out along our life journey, and so begins the pressure of living up to expectations.

Fire in Motion ©FrogDiva Photography

But what happens when we change our minds, or can’t cope with the demands? Who factors in death, divorce, disaster and doom into the pattern on purpose? Nobody is infallible, and like it or not, there will always be a time when we lose sight of the intended path and ourselves in the strange land called Transition. You’ve walked away from something or someone, for better or for worse, but haven’t quite reached the next stage. The unknown and unpredictable are inevitable catalysts to fear, but if you are strong enough, you can convert this fear into sacred space.

There are so many people around the globe undergoing dramatic changes in their lives, not necessarily by choice. Like them, I find myself exploring new options and paths in life, re-evaluating skills, knowledge and objectives and it is turning out to be one of the most fascinating experiences in my life. It is one thing to learn about yourself within the confines of a structure, but when you take that structure away and are presented with carte blanche to start anew and wipe the slate clean, it is scary as fuck.

Distorted Jungle ©FrogDiva Photography

If anyone had asked me 20 years ago what sacred space meant to me, I would have answered that it was the time I spent in mediation and silent retreat in order to discern the next step in my life. As my life progressively got complicated and entangled, I discovered that my sacred space is photography, which brings me back to the saying above. What is photography really about anyway? It is far more than preserving memories or attempting to make time stand still. It is a bridge between realities – one that was, and one that is to be. A photograph is an interpretation of reality, your homage to the moment and the journey. It is, in effect, the honouring the sacred space of what is no longer and what is not yet. The camera captures a moment that will never return, but what you do with the photograph to interpret that memory is defined by the soul, and the your soul alone, technical perfection be damned.

The three photographs you see here have all been featured in my galleries before as part of my interpretation of light and colour, a romantic dance with shadows, and a passionate tete-a-tete with silence. However, they are also sand dunes in the desert of time, bridges between times and emotions. In short, they are stylistic manifestation of memory. A new form of prayer – a sacred space.

Yes, I am flirting with details and blurriness, and the objective is to achieve that moment right before you awaken from a dream, unsure whether it is all a figment of my imagination or simply the acceptance of a new reality.

My sacred space.

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