Everywhere, signs

I photograph to encourage thought, or hope to. I don’t always succeed, but it’s not always up to me, and I’m not really sure, yet, how to direct thought in specific ways. I hope to refine my vision and technique, and learn to make photographs that remind myself and other of the wonders that are all around us. As Allah says in Al Jathiya, 3-5

إِنَّ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

وَفِي خَلْقِكُمْ وَمَا يَبُثُّ مِن دَابَّةٍ آيَاتٌ لِّقَوْمٍ يُوقِنُونَ

وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِن رِّزْقٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ آيَاتٌ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ

Indeed, within the heavens and earth are signs for the believers.

And in the creation of yourselves and what He disperses of moving creatures are signs for people who are certain.

And [in] the alternation of night and day and [in] what Allah sends down from the sky of provision and gives life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness and [in His] directing of the winds are signs for a people who reason.

I shared these ayat a couple of years ago, but they’re worth repeating. I so often forget, become oblivious to the wonders around me. Take, for example the picture at the top of this post or, better yet, this failed, wanna-be Egglestonian picture of the red plastic chair. If you pause for a minute, consider, think some, there is so much there to wonder about, appreciate, marvel at in the creation: different trees and shrubs, the way the light falls, shade and the relief it brings from the heat of the sun.

And not just that, I shot this on film, and scanned it digitally, and you’re seeing it on a screen: Allah azza wa jall created all the physics and chemistry that makes all that work: physics of light and color, all the chemistry that goes into making emulsions, base films, interlayers, couplers, and all of that, conductive and transmissive properties of different materials that store the data to reproduce this picture, stream it to your computer or phone and display it on your screen. Sure, humans put it all together, but only from what was already there. Allahu Akbar!

Does the picture work? Not really. The angle and framing are a bit off, and I wasn’t patient with the light, but there are still reminders there, for those who care to look and reflect, though it probably takes a bit of extra work and focus to move the mind in that direction.

This what I mean when I claim that I photograph to encourage thought. Sadly, it depends largely on the willingness and ability of the viewer to look carefully and think deeply. With some additional practice and concentration, InshaAllah I can find ways to trigger deep thought and to direct thought in specific ways.

May Allah guide us to reflect, consider, ponder, and remember Him and His blessings, Ameen.


I’ve fallen off with these reminders lately. May Allah forgive me: I looked at stats and google tracking reported that no one had read one of them in months, and I felt discouraged. May Allah grant me strength and help me to be a better servant.

2 Replies to “Everywhere, signs”

  1. I remember reading your commentary that you photograph to provoke thought. My question is who do you provoke to think? Is it yourself? Is it someone else? Any person in particular? Or just anyone, no matter who? This also goes hand in hand with your postscript.

    I once had a debate with an “artist”. I put it in quotes, because although she is a very skilled painter, I doubt she actually is an artist. She is in her 70s and was rather irascible. Without going into details of the exchange, let me go into one question I asked her. I asked, if she were the last person on earth, would she still be an artist. Would she still paint, if so, what would she paint. She gave me some bogus answer… I ask that question of you too. Would you photograph if you were the last person on earth? What would you photograph? What would your motive be?

    1. These are some great questions, Dev!

      I don’t have great answers for you, and I’ll think deeply on them and get back to you. I might use this comment as a jumping off point for some further explorations of my intent and purpose, if you don’t mind.

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