Many of my very best photos and most successful paintings of all have arisen out of completely opportunist moments – the ones that birth out of the fact that you are aware enough, and living in the moment enough, to discern ‘the extraordinary’ glinting like a rare gem on a sandy beach.
That’s pretty much what happened to me last week on one of my walks; Rudi and I stopped off at the little ‘beach’ area of the river bank where we often sit down to enjoy the water and the dragonflies when I spotted a pure white swan feather lying there on the mud, like a gift left for us to find by its donor, who came to join us shortly after; paddling surprisingly close to Rudi yet keeping his watchful distance.
As I picked up the feather – smiling at how appropriate since I had just placed the final brushstrokes on my latest painting; a swan – I twirled it between thumb and finger and noticed how it caught the light. Then I realised this perfect back-light wasn’t coming directly from the sun but from its reflection in the water, which was alternately like the steadiest golden-white orb and then a thousand dancing sparkles as Rudi sploshed on by.
Without a moment’s premeditation, I grabbed my phone and started to take dozens of shots of the feather in my hand, using the reflected light as my back-light. These are the results.
They possess that certain kind of magic that always seems to accompany the most spontaneous, opportunist, in-the-moment kind of joy that translates its energy into the very best of photographs (and, I would say, paintings); engaging the viewer with something of the same thrill of that first moment of discovery, perhaps because it reminds them that such moments of unexpected joy are freely available to us all, all of the time – just as long as we remain open to them!