I have often said that there should be a program called “Photoshop for Life”. Just imagine it…with the wave of a healing brush, the wrinkles on your face would be gone. Poof! Or maybe you would want to liquify a few pounds of fat from your thighs. (Liquify has always been one of my favorite photoshop tools!) I think I would smooth away the scar that is still visible from the stitches I received when I was 8 or 9 years old. The possibilities are endless! Photoshop is a powerful program and to be able to harness that power in real life would be incredible!
A few years ago, my friend, Tiffany Allen, posted a note on facebook entitled “Digital Photography and the Savior.” (You can read it at the end of this post.) Her post had a pretty big impact on me. As a matter of fact, I have read it several times since the she posted it more than 3 years ago. She may not even remember that it is lurking out there on her facebook page, but I do. Here is an excerpt from it:
“Remember the days of film. I know….think hard. 🙂 Remember how we were so careful to take pictures that we thought for sure would turn out because we knew we had to pay for those images to get developed…don’t make a mistake….or….you would PAY for it in the end. It was pressure to say the least.”
Do you remember the days of film photography? I do. I have loved to take pictures since I was very young. In elementary school, we built crude cameras out of oatmeal boxes, placed full sized sheets of photo paper inside them, and exposed our pictures on the playground. I chose to “photograph” the monkey bars. We then went back in our classroom/darkroom, and developed our pictures. I was fascinated by the whole procedure and as I watched the monkey bars appear on my paper, in stark black and white shadow, I was hooked. I didn’t understand how the exposure worked or the chemical processes that made the image appear, but I loved the idea of recording a moment in time, forever. I received my first camera for my birthday that same year and the picture taking began.
In those days, I would set up my pictures carefully. As Tiffany said, you knew you were going to have to pay just to see what you created when you were using film. Most of my pictures were posed in front of some sort of backdrop.One of my personal favorites is a picture of me in pink pajamas, sitting in a pretty white chair in front of a sheer curtain. My friends and I were obviously trying to create a picture perfect atmosphere … and we did a pretty good job. 🙂 I loved taking pictures with friends, capturing memories that now, years later, I would never remember without those images. But the images I created during my teenage years all fit into a single photo album…and they are all very obviously posed. Because of the price we had to pay, it just wasn’t worth taking chances on something that might not turn out. So I took my photographs with care and they were few and far between.
Well, now are the wonderful days of digital,” Tiffany continues. “Digital Days! Digital photography has opened a grand world to all of us…has granted us a joyous freedom… We are able to push the limits of our creativity…And we are able to instantly look at the screen….see if we succeeded. If we didn’t…..we delete it. Never, ever to be seen again. We don’t intentionally try to make an ugly picture, do we? Or to set up a shot that is not pleasing? No. We try. Really, passionately TRY. And sometimes, my friend…it just doesn’t come out like we had hoped. So….we delete, move on, never to think or worry about that image again. But we probably learned what not to do next time.”
She then goes on to compare digital photography to the atonement of Jesus Christ. “The Savior does for our lives what Digital has done for Photography,” she says. What a concept! Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, created this amazing world and placed us in it with the expectation that we would try to make something out of our time here. Part of the plan was that we would make mistakes…and because of that, he provided us with a delete button. That is right… because of His amazing gift given through the atonement, the mistakes we make while trying to create a picture perfect life can be deleted forever if we just hit that button. And, we learn valuable lessons about what not to do as we continue working on this photo shoot we call life.
I love this analogy! It speaks volumes about the expectations of life here on earth. I am guilty of still living in the film photography days…trying to be perfect and not taking many risks for fear of having to pay for my failures. But that is not what life was meant to be! The beauty of the digital age is that you can take risks, you can live imperfectly, and you can delete whatever images don’t turn out. It is what God expected because it is the method that allows us to learn and grow. In my opinion, perfectly posed pictures are way over rated! My favorites are the candid shots that show people really living! And…true confession here…in the past 10 years since I bought my first digital camera, I have taken literally thousands of pictures! Talk about risk taking! Imagine the number of albums I can fill with all of those images!
Digital photography not only changed the way the world takes pictures, it also changed the way the world processes pictures. Sometimes, we take a risk and the picture doesn’t quite turn out the way we had hoped. And sometimes we DO delete those pictures, never to be seen again. But sometimes, those marginally good pictures are just good enough to open in Photoshop, clean them up a bit, add an effect or two, and…magically, it seems…an ok picture might become a favorite picture! I happen to be a photoshop junkie. I love to play around in that program. Sometimes, I might add just a bit of light to enhance a picture. Sometimes I might smooth out some wrinkles or shave off a few pounds from my thighs. And sometimes, I spend hours adding effects to create an image that is picture perfect!
Recently, as I was once again reading Tiffany’s note, I had the thought that really, the Savior’s atonement goes a step further than just a delete button. His power is our Photoshop for Life. He can delete our really bad blunders and make it so that we never have to deal with them again, but he can also take those marginal errors and clean them up. His sacrifice didn’t just provide us with the delete button we call repentance, but it gave us a bunch of other really cool tools, too. He provided us with a healing brush, to take away the pain and anguish caused by living in reality. He gave us a filter called sympathy that allows us to see the world through the suffering of others. He gave us a brightness/contrast adjustment, His very own light, to bring us out of those dark and dreary days. He liquifies our problem areas and enhances our abilities to make us better than we could ever be alone. Through a lifetime of effects and actions, he can change us from an ok person to an amazing person! As He shares His power…His amazing, atoning power…we can eventually become picture perfect.
Sometimes I get caught up in the idea that if I buy the right outfits for my family, set up the perfect pose and get everyone smiling and looking at the camera at the same time, then we will have the perfect portrait. But the reality is that perfection in photography is rare. That is why photoshop was created! Perfection in life is rare, too. It doesn’t matter what we wear or where we live or who our friends are or how much we smile, we all have problems that are bigger than we are. He has said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you…for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) No matter how big our problem, He has a tool that will fix it. No matter how many scars need to be removed or how much time it will take, he is ready to take on our project. But first, we have to let go of the idea that we don’t need any editing and allow ourselves to be opened up on His desktop where he can create an image that is in His likeness. Some of the changes might be painful, and we probably won’t understand all of the actions he is using. But if we trust in Him and His redeeming love, when all is said and done, I think we will be amazed at the beauty created by His “Photoshop for Life”.
DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE SAVIOR by Tiffany Allen
‘Okay so I was thinking today….(yeah..I do that sometimes…okay…I do it a lot) and you
might think me a bit crazy when I express my thoughts here…but…bear withme.
Remember the days of film. I know….think hard. 🙂 Remember how we were so careful to take pictures that we thought for sure would turn out because we knew we had to pay for those images to get developed…don’t make a mistake….or….you would PAY for it in the end. It was pressure to say the least.
Well, now are the wonderful days of digital. Digital Days! Digital photography has opened a grand world to all of us…has granted us a joyous freedom. In our attempts to create something beautiful, even artful. We are able to push the limits of our creativity…to try…to experience….to really grow. And we are able to instantly look at the screen….see if we succeeded. If we didn’t…..we delete it. Never ever to be seen again. We don’t intentionally try to make an ugly picture do we? Or to set up a shot that is not pleasing? No. We try. Really, passionately TRY. And sometimes my friend…it just doesn’t come out like we had hoped.
So….we delete, move on never to think or worry about that image again. But we probably learned what not to do next time.
The Savior does for our lives what Digital has done for Photography. He has given us a wonderful world to try and make something beautiful. To try and create a piece of Art
with our lives. He has given us, through his sacrifice a freedom to REALLY try….to really try to do this. And if something doesn’t turn out quite like we had hoped…..he deletes it for us. Never to be looked upon or thought about again. And ….we move on….trying still to create something
beautiful. And we learn what Not to do next time.
We don’t intentionally TRY to mess things up in our lives….but when we are giving our all to make something wondrous…..it happens….mistakes and blunders….and He deletes them. He has opened this world to us. Wide open for us to experience. Let’s not hold back. Let’s make something beautiful. He’s handed us a free gift.