Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shine On


I was having trouble finding inspiration for my post this week and then it hit me like a ton of bricks this morning when I was heading into work.  A friend of mine from high school had died early this morning after battling cancer for almost two years. Along with tears of sadness came some unexpected inspiration.  A feeling rushed over me and I knew that I wanted to take a photo of a sunflower in remembrance of her.  I made an abrupt turn and headed towards the lake where I knew the sunflowers were in bloom.  I drove quickly hoping that I could capture some morning light.  I arrived and realized my camera was not with me.  Instead of wallowing in disappointment I decided my iphone would have to suffice.  There was something so calming about taking a photo with a purpose.  The photo isn't that great, but there was such intention and emotion behind it.  If I had not made that abrupt turn and followed the inspiration to take the photo would it mean the same to me if I had gone home to get my camera and properly compose and expose my shot?  I really doubt it because it was the emotion of the moment that created it.

As I sat out by the lake staring at these beautiful wild flowers with their faces turned towards the sun the words "shine on" kept running through my head.  I had only seen Jennifer a handful of times since high school almost 20 years ago, but when I think of her I see a smile that could light up a room.


Flashback to last week when I printed some photos to send to her along with a little note, but I couldn't decided if I wanted to include the photo above.  Is this appropriate to send to someone who is dying?  What words would I write along with the photos? so, there they sat....on my desk untouched for a week.  Then yesterday I decided to send the photos hoping they would bring a smile to her face.  Upon hearing of her death this morning a wave of regret came over me knowing that they did not arrive in time for her to see.  I should have sent them last week, but maybe.....just maybe they will bring a little bit of sunshine to her husband and mother when they find them in their mailbox today.


Inspiration finds us and our job as photographers is to react to that inspiration.   I'm often inspired by the perfect light falling on a flower,  but I did not expect to be inspired by the death of a friend.  As my heart aches for Jennifer's mother who has lost her only child and for her husband who has lost his wife,  I am thankful that she has found peace and I know she will continue to shine on just as the sunflower in the photograph.


21 comments:

Carol said...

Dear Leigh,
This is such a heartfelt post. I'm so glad you followed your heart on the way to work. This is a lovely tribute to your friend. When you lose people, I suppose, there is always something you can regret having not done, but I feel that those things are merely earthly and that your friend can still feel the love you were trying to share with that cup. I'm sorry for your loss , and I hope the sunflowers continue to give you comfort

kelly said...

dear leigh, i'm so sorry for your loss. i think the real beauty of photography (and art in general) is its ability to comfort both the artist and the recipient. thank you for sharing your heartfelt words and photos. love, kelly

heyjudephotography said...

Leigh, Your photo of the sunflower is a way of honoring your friend. You were drawn to it for a reason. Your words are lovely and I am sorry for your loss. There is a quote by L.M. Montgomery that I love, "Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it." Your memories of your friendship will let it live on forever.

Sherri B. said...

Leigh, what a beautiful tribute to your friend. I think your iphone photo is absolutely perfect. Your post is so touching...thank you for sharing this poignant moment.

Dotti said...

A perfect way to remember your friend, Leigh. The sunflower was emblematic of your friend in your heart and mind and that in itself is a lovely remembrance. Your words are sweet, honest, heartfelt. The fact that your friend's death inspired you is a tribute in and of itself. I can't help but think she would be pleased to know that you found inspiration on the occasion of her passing.

xo
Dotti

Naomi said...

I am filled with wonder that inspiration struck you suddenly and you felt such an urge to go out of your way to capture the sunflower. Amazing. If only we all could tap into our intuition so powerfully as you did. I am quieted by your story today... so sorry for your loss and for you friend's family. I'm so glad you shared this with us.

Leigh said...

You are so right. Photography is a comfort for both sides. Thank you for your comments Kelly.

Leigh said...

Thank you Sherri!

Leigh said...

It was a pretty amazing moment that I just had to take the photo right then and there and knew exactly what I wanted to do. I sometimes wonder if moments like this hit us at other times but we don't take the time to tune into them. Thank you for your sweet comment.

Leigh said...

Dotti you always have such a way with words and I thank you for them.

Leigh said...

Lovely quote Judy. Thank you for sharing it.

leigh said...

It is wonderful to think that photography can be such a comfort. I think we all need to follow our hearts more often, don't you?

terriporter said...

So sorry for the loss of your friend, Leigh, but I hope that sharing it with us helps ease your sadness. Your photo as a tribute to your friend will be a comfort to both you and her family, I'm sure. Your iPhone shots are always wonderful, so no worries that you didn't have your big camera with you. You captured what was in your heart and that's what's important. I completely agree with you that sometimes we are listening when something tells us exactly what to do and sometimes we aren't. I'm so glad that you were listening.

Stacie said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend, but I think your impromptu photo is perfect. Some times it doesn't need the staging and big camera to be exactly what it needed to be.

Claudia@DipityRoad said...

Sweet Leigh
This beautiful post brought me to tears.

Just a couple of years ago I lost my best friend and sister. I know that feeling of "too little too late." But what I have learned is Nothing is too late. Just like you said, perhaps the "late" gift is in the hands of exactly who it should be in.

Nothing happens for no reason. I am certain you helped. How appropriate that your so called, procrastination actually helped your friends loved ones. She is smiling down on your thoughtfulness and help for them.

She is flying... I am so sorry for your loss and pray for comfort for your heart.

Thank you so much for reminding us how important it is to tell those we love those words.

By the way... I love you my life sister. :)

Claudia

Leigh said...

Thank you sweet Claudia :) That means a lot.

Kim Stevens said...

First Leigh, I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. And I agree so much with Claudia, things happen in the sequence that they are supposed to happen, for reasons we just don't understand. And regardless of what camera you used, you seized the moment to capture a beautiful image, one where I see the light of your friend symbolilzed in the sunflower looking upon life for the last time. Thank you for sharing this, Kim.

stephmull said...

Leigh....thank you for sharing such a close, personal story with us. I, too, am sorry for your loss. But I know your friend's family will be touched by your thoughtfulness, generosity and way of remembering her life. You are a kind, dear friend! xoxo, steph

Alison Bents said...

xoxo

AFishGirl said...

Thinking of you, Leigh. Such a beautiful way to honour your friend. I'm sorry for your loss. This heartfelt post is very beautiful and a real tribute to the beauty of love.

Deanna said...

I am very late in commenting on your post, Leigh...but I am so glad that I came back to give a look at what I have missed this busy week of mine. I am so sorry for your loss, I too have lost friends to cancer this past year, and your tribute to her will definitely bring happiness to her family. It was sweet, thoughtful and loving.

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