Although I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures, from about 2010 to 2014 I’d lost the motivation to pick up my camera. The landscape that surrounded me seemed dull and very little inspired me. Previously, I hardly went anywhere without my camera, but over time, it stayed home while I lived my day-to-day life until eventually, I no longer took photos of anything that my cell phone could not capture.
And then we moved to South Korea in the fall of 2014.
Suddenly I was surrounded by a whole new environment and culture. Everything was new and thrilling. I found inspiration everywhere, including my own neighborhood, from the strange green fences instead of white picket ones, to the fields of rice patties and the Korean people who worked them day in and day out.
While out for a walk one day, I came to the realization that it wasn’t my environment in the States that became dull: it was my own eyes. Like trying to see through cataracts, my perception of the world around me had become cloudy. I had failed to see that inspiration is everywhere; God sees to that. His world is perfectly made, and each day that I put on my tennis shoes to go out and explore this new world I’m amazed at the wonder of it all. Sometimes I find tiny bugs, alive and busily performing their small, but important jobs. Other times I find people working or playing or relaxing within the environment that God has placed them in. There are mornings when I find the landscape lit in the glow of the rising sun and it takes my breath away. And then there are the times when I come across either the filth or the amazing creations that we create as we use the earth that God has bestowed upon us to rule. In every way, each day has become my realization that God is everywhere, and we should give thanks to Him for being able to partake in it.
We’ve all seen the beauty of God’s splendor through the lens of the photographer greats: the national parks of America through the eyes of Ansel Adams or the Grand Canyon via Adam Schallu for example. Taking the whole world into consideration, the photographic possibilities to highlight God’s wonder are endless, but for the majority of us, these great photos and the places where they were taken seem out of reach: beautiful but fleeting, something we would never be a witness to ourselves.
For this reason, I’ve decided to start a series on this blog entitled “Within Walking Distance,” which will highlight what I come across as I venture out into God’s creation. Through my photography, I will become a witness to His splendor as well as to what we’ve done with it. These photos will represent the environment that God has placed me in – reality rather than grandeur – but instead of illustrating the mundane, I intend to make plain the Creator.
For my first post, I’d like to begin with this image of a motorcycle in a pear orchard, which I happened across only five minutes from my home. Since my arrival in Korea, I’d been wanting to photograph the pear orchards that dot my hometown, but for the life of me, I could never find just the right angle. It’s been nine months, but I finally captured a photo of the orchard that shows the intimacy of these beautiful, man-made creations. God gave us the pear tree. We harvest the seeds and plant them in rows for bulk sale.
In my neighborhood, the growers plant orchards only large enough for a family to handle. Each pear is carefully protected with a paper wrapper, which the growers place on the fruit one by one. It’s a full-time job, and they take great pride in it.
The motorcycle is an everyday site, one of their preferred methods of transportation from home to orchard, rice patty or garden. To see one in the orchard seems unusual, but when I think about it, makes sense: practicality surrounded by simple beauty.
In our everyday lives, we concern ourselves with the doing of things for a particular purpose: an end goal. We are constantly on the move, hunting for the next dollar or the next possession. These objectives seem practical from a human perspective, but in the constant pursuit, we tend to overlook the created environment within which we are encircled.
We can find the beauty that surrounds our practical lives, if only we look in the right direction.