…How high your awareness level is determines how much meaning you get from your world. Photography can teach you to improve your awareness level.” – Ansel Adams
I had Ansel Adams on my mind today as I drove down 395 east of Yosemite. The landscape reminded me of my favorite photo of his. The countryside was so beautiful with light and color contrasts, tall striking mountains on my right and desert hills on my left. His interpretation of the Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine has influenced how I view the world, as any great art should do. I did a study on Mr. Adams in high school, the man was a humble genius, trained as a classical concert pianist, he had to choose between that and a photography career, though he tried to juggle both for a while. He was told that the “camera cannot express the human soul” like music can. His response was that maybe the camera cannot, but HE can! His visualizations of nature have stayed with me as I witnessed today, and last week in Yosemite. I didn’t conjure up his image to think about as I was making my way south, it came unbidden as strongly as a song that sticks in your brain.
I was also listening to Mark Twain’s Innocent’s Abroad on audio book as I was zooming down the highway at 70 mph, and that also will influence my days. His use of phrases like, “brilliant mendacity” and “marvel of ugliness” words that I would never think to put together made my brain light up and take notice, and laughter burst out of my mouth. His art enhanced my experience inside my car and Ansel, the beauty outside.
I love this about art, it can change us, influence us in ways we can’t imagine, on days that we don’t expect. Maybe someday my acting or writing will pop into your brain when least expected and present a beautiful addition to your experience of the moment. It’s another reason why we cannot ever stop learning or filling our brains with art, images, words, photos, paintings, music, dance, the list goes on. It has the ability to transform and diversify our experience of the world whether we know it or not. And in Mark Twain’s words, maybe it will swoop “down on me like the genius of destruction” and astonish me enough to take notice.