What is the Real Picture Here?

After heavy rainstorms had kept us inside all afternoon, my husband and I decided to take an early evening walk once the storm had passed.  Light  streaming behind clouds created a silvery glow against the now blue skies.  There was just enough light left in the day to cause the glistening green grass to appear as it were made of plush velvet.   A welcoming path drew us towards the foot of the mountains up ahead.  My photographer’s eye began creating the scene I hoped to capture as I asked my husband for his iPhone so I could use the phone’s camera since mine had been left at home.

When he later sent me photos I had taken, I saw I had not captured the scene I hoped to capture. The dog had run into the photo and  needed to be cropped out.

And, I had not held the camera in the right position and the photo was taken at an angle.  “It’s leaning slightly to the left.  Oh well, no problem,” I thought.  “I’ll just edit out those imperfections.”


I tried editing out what I didn’t want to see. The photo seemingly marred by the dog in the lower left corner and the photo’s leanings to the left just did not make the grade no matter how many times I tried to edit it.   Editing was not the answer to making this photo better.  I decided to trash it.  I wished the dog had not ruined the shot by running in to it.  I wished I had held the camera straight when I snapped the photo.

I kept scrutinizing the photo. I just couldn’t trash it, so one more time I tried cutting the dog out of the picture in which I did not think he belonged.

My mind went back to the moment when snapped the photo . While I was enraptured with the scene up ahead of me, I realized the dog too was enraptured with what he saw ahead of him: a place to roll in that lush, velvety wet grass.

How could I cut out dog out of the picture?  He belongs in the photo as much as the light, the sky, the grass, the mountains in the distance.  I mean really, how can I cut our dog out of the picture?  He belongs there.

 Quite honestly, would we have even gone for this walk if the dog were not in our lives?

Cutting the dog from the picture just would not be right. After all, Boston figures very prominently in all of life around here.  

Cutting him out of the photo would distort the story of what really happened on that Sunday afternoon.  It had been a dark, cool, rainy afternoon.  Then the sun came out. The dog needed a walk, so we took the dog for a walk.  That was precisely why I saw this scene. I was walking the dog, and I saw this beautiful sight.

Scrutinizing the photo one more time, I decide it did need to be straightened. Straightening the photo would not not create an inauthentic picture. Or would it?  After all, I was not holding the camera straight.  I did not shoot the photo correctly.  I knew how to fix my mistake, but that did not take the mistake away.

There’s lesson here, I thought.

The lesson:  There is more to a picture than meets the eye.  Sometimes, we want to paint a prettier picture than the real picture so others will see something we created rather than what was really happening.  In life, and in photography this happens.

The Question Derived from the Lesson: 

  • Do I see what is really important in every picture of life?

  • Do I want to edit out the parts of my life I don’t want others to see, or that I don’t want to see? 

  • In my editing, am I cutting out some really important parts of life that need to remain in the picture because they add meaning , depth, and purpose even if they were not in the original design I thought I would create for the picture of my life?  

On Reflection:
Every picture in my life, and every picture of my life does not have to be perfect, nor does it need to represent the “look” I was going for, or the scene I was trying to create.

The unexpected happens: A dog runs in the picture and distorts what I thought would be the perfect photo. That is on a good day. On a bad day, something happens that changes everything. Suddenly the picture has gone awry. The camera lens of life is suddenly tilted, out of balance, skewed, off-balance.

Does that mean that there is no longer beauty?

Does that mean that God is no longer there?

What is the bigger picture at such times?

The Takeaway:

Look at the big picture, the complete picture. Look at the pieces and the parts. Each one has meaning.

I reflected on what I really hoped to capture in the moment of snapping this photo: those strands of silver coming from the clouds hovering over the mountain. Why did I want to capture those silver strands? I hoped to capture a visual for my life verses from Psalm 121.

I lift my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

The keeper of my soul, the maker of heaven and earth, does not require that I live a picture perfect life, nor does He require that I project a picture perfect life. He instead shows me to Whom I can turn when the picture does not turn out the way I expected.