A few weeks ago, I decided to spend an afternoon wandering around the Church Hill area of Richmond. Some of the city’s oldest homes are there, by the church where Patrick Henry gave his famous speech about liberty or death. I happened upon this place called Richmond Hill, intrigued by it’s well-worn brick wall, a barrier that made me curious about what lay beyond.
I wandered into the entry way and asked a man there, “what is this place?” He explained it was a former convent and now a religious retreat, devoted to the city of Richmond and healing. He said they had a lovely garden and a labyrinth and, noticing my camera, offered that I might enjoy taking pictures there. When I asked the lady at the desk, she welcomed me in.
It was warm, overcast with hints of rain all afternoon. The moist air was rich with birdsong as I opened my eyes to what was there, and after a while, I could “see.” As a filmmaker, it would be the sum of all the pieces of that experience, captured moment by moment. Each to be revealed and honored. Later I would find an order for the images and create a slide show. You’ll find a link below.
I was on a journey, inward towards a stillness I sometimes feel after yoga or meditation. And outward towards a quiet beauty, a serenity marked by the weight of years… and all the seekers who tread upon these paths.
Photographing a place that “speaks” to me puts me in a space without time or borders. There’s just that fragment that beckons, catches my eye, and the time spent is without measure, save what is captured as a way of remembering.
And I position myself to find the right framing, sense the tonalities and structures that will form the composition, and find an exposure that blends the light dark values. I can feel when the framing works, almost hear a click as it locks in, and rarely crop after the fact. I may shoot a few different exposures, especially when I’m using shadow and light as a means to focus the eye. And perhaps a modest color correct, mostly to add a little contrast and richness to the image.
These images are part of a larger set I’ve placed on Flicker, called Richmond Hill. If you go there, you’ll get a more complete sense of that afternoon. Opening to grace.