Friday, September 14, 2007


Originally uploaded by rod lewis
Ironically, or perhaps, serendipitously, after I’d finished writing the words that I posted last, a man came down the path, and stopped to talk to me. He saw my computer and camera and declared, “well that’s one way to do it!” I looked up and saw a man in his mid-70s, completely dressed in khaki from head to foot, with a monopod slung over his shoulder. Attached to the end of his monopod was a Canon 5D, and attached to his lips was a half-burned cigarette. He had several lens cases of various sizes slung off his shoulders.
But true to what I believe is probably a good indication of photographic purpose (because it is so like motorcycling), we didn’t talk about gear, we talked about this morning’s photo subject – the Congaree Swamp.
John Paul, as he was named, told me that he’d grown up in the swamp. Until 1960, he said, his father was entirely swamp dependent. He had raised and supported his family by hunting and trapping in the Congaree. John literally knew the swamp as his backyard. He talked about places along the creeks and river using trees and fallen log jams as landmarks as if they were road signs.
The topic of his talk with me was learning to be a part of the swamp – to behave as if you belong to it. He shared insight to animal behavior, and seeing wildlife. He talked about learning and discovering the swamp. But it all boiled down, he said, “to finding a nice spot, sitting down and letting the swamp come to you.” “When you feel you’ve always got to be moving, and looking, you end up scaring away half the things you want to see, and completely miss the other half. If you sit and let it find you, you miss very little. You can experience the sounds, the wildlife, the trees, the smells.”
Anyway, I thought it was really cool, that he came along, and as if he knew what I’d been writing, proceeded to affirm everything I’d just written. So take John Paul’s advice, follow your path, but from time to time, sit and let the beauty come to you.