Finding the beauty in the tragedy…



It is not always easy being a photographer.  We are witness to many events; some happy, and some not.  I’m sure we all ask ourselves before we press that shutter button, should I capture this or that?  Sometimes, the answer is easy, and sometimes, it isn’t.  Because I’m a nature photographer, my answer always lies in beauty. I ask myself, do I find beauty in my viewfinder?  Is this beauty something I want to share with others?  Will my image inspire others?  Will it teach?  Will it motivate?  Will it soothe?  That last question is tremendously important to me.  I strive to bring forth images which soothe the soul, even in the face of tragedy.  It is my hope “Smoky Rainbow Sky” will soothe those who are and have experienced the destructive tragedy of the California wildfires.

I’ve received feedback from both sides of the equation; those who have lost everything in these tragedies, and those who were spared…those who recovered in their losses and have gained a new perspective, and those who are still living in their own personal nightmares and suffer in their hearts, daily. My heart goes out to the latter.  While I do not know what it is like to lose everything in a wildfire, I do know what it is like to lose your valuables, and most importantly, your loved ones.  A loss is never easy to accept and there is never an answer for many of us.  We can look to our family, our friends, and to prayer, for support in our every day lives.  But, I also feel we can look to art to help us in our struggles.  Sometimes, we can best relate to other’s depictions of tragedies in an art form, whether it be paintings, sculptures, and photography. In my photograph featured above, I have been given thanks by some folks who have had to flee their homes due to these fires.  One person, in particular, recently thanked me for making him smile with the photograph.  He was an evacuee.  Yet, another hasn’t been able to get past her losses from the last fire she experienced many years ago, and she let me know and shared the pain with me.  I’m grateful to hear from both. I hope they both find solace in some manner.

You can say many things about art and agree or disagree with those things. But, the one thing we can all agree on when it comes to art, is that it AFFECTS us.  It brings us to feel in our hearts and in our minds.  Nature, in particular, reminds us that there is beauty in everything, including loss. How do you define beauty?  Beauty CAN be ugly, believe it or not. I don’t think of them as opposites, but rather as equals representing the same things and it’s all about perception. I’ve seen many “ugly” things in nature, including the “corpse flower“, which smells of death as it blooms. But, try to tell that to the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, who boast of their prized corpse flower on all social media as it nears blooming! Some may say bats and warthogs are ugly. But, others may find them adorable! It’s all about perception.  And the good thing about perception is that it changes all the time. Perhaps, those who are still hurting from these fires and see my image as ugly, will someday find a new perspective and come to appreciate the beauty left behind. As an artist, I hope whatever I bring to anyone regarding anything, ultimately soothes their soul in one way or another.  It is my hope, it is my prayer.  May God bless all of those affected by the California wildfires and may God protect the very brave men and women fighting so tirelessly to contain the destruction. 


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