tonia johnston photography | through my viewfinder

through my viewfinder

July 29, 2011

When you look in the mirror you see your flaws. A nose that is too big, eyes too close together or too far apart. A face that is too thin, too full.

When I look at you through my viewfinder I see beauty. I see the details that you miss. I see the curve of your cheek, the length of your neck. I see the color of your eyes, bright behind a curtain of dark lashes. I see how wonderful your true smile is and that quick flicker in your eyes that registers when you get it. When you relax and feel what I see. When you realize that there is something beautiful about you.

You may see a broken down neighborhood overrun with poverty, crime, the homeless. You feel the anger when you pass through on your way to the better part of town and you may lock your door for protection. Walking down the street you clutch your purse a little tighter, hold your child to you, cross the street when strangers come near you. The empty beer bottle on the road is garbage. Graffiti means gang activity. Run down buildings means a forgotten city.

When I look through my viewfinder I see beauty in the art called graffiti. I see the homeless man with the lines etched on his face as someone with a story to tell. Where was he last week, last month, last year? Are one of those run down houses the home he lost when he lost his job? Was the empty beer bottle his remedy, his way to forget? I see a sad beauty in those old run down buildings. I see something honest and real. I feel pulled to the graffiti, the abandoned toy, the rusted items. They call tome..and I search for them.

Through my viewfinder I see a game of football close up. I see the sweat. I see the urgency on the running back’s face. I see his eyes shut tight when the defender hits him. I see the movement of the pads and helmets when they collide. I see the look in the quarterback’s eye and the roll of his fingers off the ball when he throws a pass. I see defeat in the slump of a corner-backs shoulder’s when he’s just been burned. I see the things that are missed by the naked eye when trying to scan the whole field. I see nothing but the action, a snippet of the big picture but the reason for the play.

When my children are laughing, being kids, being free….I see moments in time that I can’t get back. I see them growing before my eyes, moving out, moving on. In my mind I see them as babies like it was yesterday but at the same time can see them with their own families. Loving their own kids. So when I lift my camera and look through my viewfinder, I can see them as they are now. I have frozen their laugh in time. I have captured their smiles, frowns, sports, recitals, first days of school and I’ve seen it up close through my lens. I feel that I can never forget long as I’ve seen it through my viewfinder.

When I lift my camera the world becomes a different place. Things and people are instantly changed. Everything is manageable through my camera. Emotions become more raw, intent behind movement is instantly clear. I want to grab it all. I want to see it all. I want to feel it all and I want to share what I see with you. I want you to see what I see. I want you to feel what I felt at that moment when I pushed the shutter button. I want you to see the world through my viewfinder. Even if it’s only for a second.