Just before Christmas 2014, I went with a couple of friends downtown to photograph the beautiful Christmas lights.
It was raining, which didn’t help, but somehow I just couldn’t get the shot I wanted, until I stopped focusing on the… well, until I stopped focusing.
In the end, I got two shots that I like. Christmas in the City is a story of twinkling lights beckoning to Christmas-spirited shoppers to open up their wallets. It’s a little hard to focus on, but that’s kind of the point. The lure of the lights, the seasonal music and the ‘sales’ and ‘special offers’ are designed to blind us to the fact that largely we are buying things we don’t need – or maybe even want.
Promise tells a different story though. Seeing it reminds me of the old tale that ‘the streets of the city are paved with gold’. Many people believed that the big city, whether it was Paris, New York, London, Athens, Rome or wherever, was the place where it was so easy to make a fortune that the streets were literally paved with gold because it was so common there.
In Promise, I see that dream of potential, the illusion of grandeur. The lights look bright and inviting, but distant, out of focus. They offer a promise of something wonderful – if you can just get close enough.
People don’t believe now that streets are literally paved with gold, but they do still fall for the dream, the promise of the dazzling lights of the big city. Hollywood, Las Vegas, Broadway all hold so much promise – but only for a few does that promise become reality as the lights come into focus and the truth is seen.
What do you see in these photo’s. What promise are you reaching for that seems just out of reach?