Dear Mr Alien,
today’s photo challenge was to go and pursue, capture and post a black and white photograph. Sounds easy enough right? Wrong! Composing a powerful, emotive, timeless monochromatic photo forces us to think more creatively as you can no longer rely on vivid colours and tones to give your photograph that pop it needs to capture your viewing audience. Rather we make use of things like contrast, shapes and textures to give life to our images. A good rule of thumb is to look for subjects with strong blacks and strong whites to give your image stark contrasts.
Photography lesson over Mr Alien, as you would have guessed black and white are on two extremes of the colour spectrum, lending themselves to every day conversation where polar opposites are discussed. As a species we seem to be caught up in extremities. Things are often good or bad, right or wrong, strong or weak or in this case black or white. But do we allow ourselves the best chance at a happy life if we think in terms of black and white in a very grey world where things are not always as they seem and sometimes the best adventures are found in those contours and contrasts of grey? In this sometimes crazy world Mr Alien we as humans love compartmentalising things in order for us to process them better, each in their own little box or rather each on their side of the fence. What opportunities are we letting pass us by when thinking in such terms? How much happier would we be once we realise that we can’t place the world, it’s inhabitants and their behaviours into neat, clinical categories?
These are questions I feel we need to ask ourselves before getting caught up in divisive narratives, race being one of the most divisive subjects currently. Mr Alien in my country South Africa we have a history of oppression by one race over the other, in our case it was the minority white settlers who subjugated the populous black communities as soon as they landed here in 1652 and unfortunately we are still feeling the after effects of said colonisation. As a rule I try and stay away from sensitive subjects like race Mr Alien because as much as we would like our opinions heard and valued I feel the subject will always cause some furore seeing that our current political system has swapped one form of oppression for another. In the past it was apartheid that kept South Africans segregated but these days it’s economic apartheid doing the same thing. Too many South Africans are still hungover from the outlandish laws and jurisdictions that this beloved country of mine suffered through to view the situation objectively.
Back to the black and white thinking of my hereditary brothers and sisters I share this exquisite planet with. Oh my how we love this paradigm of classification, if we cannot classify it we either fear or vilify it. If we can’t control something we outlaw it. There are no compromises, there are no in-betweeners, you are either with us or against us. And this is the inherent problem with society today, we do not allow for the murky greyness that is every day living. Yes we might not agree with what another says but does that make him/her wrong? Why can’t we both be right in our rights? It seems the world has become smaller, allowing for only popular opinions and as I touched on my previous post we humans love following the crow, despite not always knowing the facts or context of a situation.
So allow me to leave you with this message then. Let us have that courage to be neither wrong nor right, black nor white, good nor bad but just be ourselves, with our flaws but also with our strengths. Once we’ve realized that thinking in terms of extremes is holding us back from our true, prosperous existence we’ll remove those blinkers of judgement and see the world and it’s people through lenses of acceptance, compassion and empathy. Choose to see the good where before you saw bad. Choose the light where once there was darkness.
Letting go of your preconceptions and judgements will set you free to live a life where all possibilities reign supremely with you as the monarch of your future.
Always watching the stars,