lighthearted, photography

little twist


Friday afternoon, I took my camera and headed out for a walk through the woods on a full sun, bright and chilly day. Not long into my walk, I found myself “grounded,” crouched low, holding my camera nearly level with the earth. My preferred vantage point.

The vibrant green patches of moss had been pulling my eyes to them as soon as I left the road and continued on the path. Eventually, I finally found a swath that seemed full of life and easily accessible without too many thorned plants around it. (My back side thanked me for that.) I squatted down to begin focusing on all the little anthropomorphic sprouts standing around on the carpet of green when my eyes glanced up at a nearby plant for a moment and saw a beautiful, tiny spiral vine that whispered (not so quietly) “Me! Me! Me!”

I’ll admit, it seems like a strange notion…

…but I’ve heard other photographers mention it as well, so I know I’m not the only one that has so-called inanimate objects “speak” to them. Sometimes, quite often actually, I find that photography is far less about ME finding a subject and far more about the subject finding ME. The little things seem to have their own channel and frequency in my brain, and when they want to be heard, they simply broadcast their message in my head and nudge my eyes to see them. (To be honest, these tiny voices from nature are far kinder than other voices that occasionally make themselves present in my mind.)

I carefully removed the spiral – maybe an inch high at most – and began posing it – well, her. Yep. Posing . Placing her fragile little body carefully in the moss – to become fast friends with the red-bodied, yellow-tipped beings standing around wondering what was up with this twisted newcomer in their community. Some stood back, hesitant, while others saw new adventure in coming over to join in the dance. Soon, the daring ones were intertwined with the twisted stranger in their midst.

They danced together for a while until little twist was ready for more adventures. I plucked her carefully from the moss and continued on my way – camera bag over my shoulder, camera in one hand, tiny & fragile twist between my thumb and forefinger. We crossed a bridge, and this daring little twist wanted to tempt fate. It was slightly windy, so I was certain to find a crack in the wood on the railing of the bridge that could hold her securely – safe from an unfortunate fall. A couple of walkers and a jogger passed by, and, much to the chagrin of little twist, the humans cast their eyes in the distance to try to figure out just what I was finding to photograph. They completely overlooked my new little friend.

That’s one thing I’ve noticed – the passersby rarely look close by for what is being photographed – they look far away. It’s as if beauty is always “over there” instead of right in front of us.

Having had her adrenaline rush on the bridge, we both knew it was time for the final photo shoot. Walking on, being held even more carefully between thumb and forefinger after having lost a bit of her footing in an unfortunate accident of excessive pressure (for which I was apologetic and for which she offered me much grace), we sought the ideal location for the last portrait.

And there it was. Down a hill a bit and through a small thicket of thorned plants (of course), but there it was – a thick old log that had been cut down some time ago. The wood was decayed, plenty of cracks and crevices lined its bark, and it wore its moss like a well-loved and well-worn coat that was, perhaps, a year or two beyond its prime. A cover of trees filtered the harshest of the sun’s light, and with great care, little twist was placed in one of the cracks.

It took quite a few shots. I was seeking great clarity, great sharpness, and great definition, and little twist took it all in stride. When I began to pay more attention to the photograph I was creating than to her, she gently reminded me that perfect focus in the image was not the intention – perfect focus on the moment was. On the presence to one another. A simple presence.

In being seen. In being honored. In being noticed. Thank you, little twist, for the reminder.


–shari miller

©2017 shari miller photography (all photographs & words are my own unless otherwise noted)