The day I bought that camera something clicked in me.
I often seek refuge in my “Thinking Place” - Great Falls Park in Great Falls, Virginia. I rarely take anyone with me because I go there to mull things over, to find answers and enjoy the quiet of the paths juxtaposed with the chaos of the ever changing and turbulent falls in the background. I never, however, go there without my Nikon because the camera has become my third eye.
This photo was taken on a snowy trail that hadn’t many footprints on it in Great Falls Park. I sensed a presence before I knew what it was and turned my head to the left. There only a few feet away in a sparse clearing of trees stood this beautiful young doe. We spotted one another at the exact same moment and because I’d been shooting a bald eagle in a nearby tree, I had my long lens which made this shot possible. If I’d had to fiddle with switching out lenses I might have lost her. There we stood in a silent faceoff, the doe in the woods - me on the path. Slowly I raised the camera, framed the shot (all the while hoping that the whirring and clicking wouldn’t spook her) and held my breath. Her brown eyes locked on mine, I began to shoot. Click, click, click. Neither of us moved. Whirr, click, click. She bowed her head deeply and slowly looked back up at me holding my gaze again. Click, whirr, click. I whispered “thank you” and walked away. I turned back for a last look to find her still standing behind the tree watching me. I smiled. She ran. At that moment a couple stepped out from behind a clump of trees to my right and I nearly jumped out of my skin. We all laughed and they told me that they’d been standing watching me with the doe. They were afraid that she would run if they continued on the path so they stood and watched us instead. The man (with a ridiculously awesome Canon around his neck) explained to me that he’d been trying for months to get close enough to a deer in Great Falls to get a photo and it has never happened. I have to admit, in all the visits and all the hours I’ve spent there, I have never seen one either. This was my lucky day.
I didn’t bother looking at what I’d captured – I knew there would be no second chance to get the shots and if I’d gotten nothing I frankly didn’t want to know until I was finished. When I got home and began uploading the photos I was shocked. Looking into the doe's eyes in this photo takes me back to the moment and our connection as if I were back on that snow-filled path, holding my breath, finger poised above the shutter. Click ... click ...click. Breathe.
THIS is why I love taking pictures. When I’m shooting all I am focused on is what I see through that tiny viewfinder. The constant din of thoughts, narrative, melodies, and lyrics that usually create my internal soundtrack go quiet, everything slows down and I becomes one with my camera and what I am shooting. I rarely experienced anything like it. Photography is a new language for me.