Taking note: Sharing the light
The lighthouse casts a diagonal, elongated shadow. Each feature of its lakeward-pointing silhouette is crisply outlined against the brilliant green backdrop of the grass.
From the top of the lighthouse, Lake Michigan’s blue waters sparkle, except for a semicircular area in the water that appears a more muted, beige-tinged shade of blue.
The dark black metal of the cast-iron staircase inside twists and turns against the backdrop of the white walls as light pours in through the vertical bars of a paneless window.
A monarch butterfly hovers above a larger-than-life milkweed plant, offering a delightful spot of orange-and-black among the endless green.
There are so many ways of seeing the beauty on the point of this little peninsula.
And I know I’ve only captured a handful of the possibilities with my camera during the few times I’ve been there.
This becomes especially apparent when I look at photos others have taken of this very spot.
When I look at the images of this area captured by others, I find myself gaining a new perspective.
I realize that I never noticed how the view from the top of the lighthouse reveals a defined circular area of moss and other plants that stands out from the rest of the lawn in color and texture.
I didn’t notice how perfectly the semicircular dirt drive could be framed by the bars of the windows atop the lighthouse.
I didn’t see the tree hanging by its roots near the shoreline with the farthest reaches of its branches kissing the sparkling water.
I was surprised to see all the beauty that I hadn’t noticed.
But when you take the time to look through the eyes of another, there’s much you can discover.
You can begin to understand what other people find important, interesting, or visually appealing.
You can find yourself seeing what was in the eye of another beholder.
You can find yourself asking questions of yourself, of the photographer, of the scene captured.
While the actual answers may not be available to us, asking the questions in the first place can provide a surprising amount of insight.
What are your eyes drawn to?
Why was the image framed like that? Are the certain things you’re not meant to see or features the photograph invites you to focus on?
Why do we like one photo of a given scene better than another?
What’s the intent of the photo?
Is the photographer looking to convey a fact, an observation, an oddity, or a more subjective and artistic view of the scene?
When we ask ourselves these questions, we can begin to understand what the photographer saw and what they intended the viewer to see.
And when we do this, we can start to see and understand the world through the eyes of another person.
We might find there’s much we’ve overlooked.
We might realize there’s beauty, courage, or despair where we never saw it before.
We might see something that troubles us, or inspires us.
We might find ourselves feeling a sense of compassion, grief, delight, or anger that we didn’t know we possessed.
We might find that we all look at the world through a different lens.
We might find out that our way of looking at the world isn’t the only way of seeing it.
And we might find out how important it is to learn from one another and show one another what we see, why we see it, and what it means.
We can begin to analyze, compare, and contrast our views and the views of others, and how they shape our words and our actions, consciously and unconsciously.
And when we take a break from our own little lens and take a look at what others see, we can become beacons of understanding and shine a new light upon the world.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Cecilia Brown is city editor at The Mining Journal. She lives in Marquette and can be found hiking if the weather’s nice, or curled up with a book if not. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.