My friend’s husband passed away recently, and he left behind a striking collection of old cameras. These devices were well cared for, many in original boxes or carrying cases. An assortment of flash attachments, straps, and other accessories also accompanied the many cameras. She let me pick one out to keep, and I find myself drawn to it for its simple aesthetic. The device itself probably still works, but its new function is a decoration on my desk. 

Traditional photographs used to only exist after laboring in a darkroom, which is still a beautiful art. Mixing the proper chemicals, keeping only a dim red light on, and coaxing the image to life from the paper. I dabbled in traditional photography in high school, but have since moved to all digital images in my repertoire. There’s still a wonderful art to digital photography (and editing is a whole new ballgame), but I have a deep respect for the original form of photography in a darkroom with film negatives.

Photography is a beautiful form of art. What other art form can realistically capture an exact moment in time? The composition, the angle, the perspective—all are important—but ultimately, it’s about the light. In fact, when photography was brought to the United States and people started moving West, painters competed with photographers in an unbridled way, imagining landscapes that could reflect and “one-up” those photos from the western states (Bierstadt specifically comes to mind). Instead of judging a painting versus a photograph, God can coax the best out of us no matter what our substance. Just like an image from a negative can be printed onto paper in a darkroom, we can reach our potential through the One who gave us our talents. 

Can we adjust our thinking to live simply, and to savor every moment? Whether we capture an image of the moment, we should spend time being present, especially during this holiday season. Reflect on what God is calling us to be for others—a volunteer, a friend, a silent stranger behind the scenes. Let’s think about our interconnectedness and how we can influence others, like a photograph frozen in a moment forever can inspire and ignite.

Let’s use the light and be the light.