“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” –Carl Jung

Truth in shades of gray

I’ve been keenly aware of shadows lately, both literal and figurative. My walks around the neighborhood give me time to think about where my life is heading and about next steps. Putting one foot in front of the other, I ponder the shadows made by the street lights, which play on the desert flora and create compelling shadows on the sidewalk and road. I’m struck by all the gradation and variations in shade, it is definitely not black and white. I actively think as I walk; where is the truth in shades of gray?

which-way-is-true-shadowsDark vs. light

I’ve been interested in the shadow side of people forever. I loved witches when I was younger. As an adult, I constantly wonder what possesses people to do evil or uncaring things. And with  a recent job I held working in the court system, I heard a lot of people talk about the things they had done that had got them in trouble. Inevitably there were shades of grey; though they were wrong in the eyes of the law, their rationales were compelling. Telling yourself you had to do it makes it easier. Was it for the greater good? In most people’s heads—yes, many times.

palm-frond-shadows- truth in shades of grayI think the shadowy-murk of these situations, the ambiguity of these situations, relate to photography. We can portray people how we want with our lens, granting us great power. As humans, our wildly different take on given situations and things underscore the fact we all grew up with different experiences and value systems. When a photographer captures an image, she decides how to frame the photo, what’s most important, what the focus should be. The truth of a documentary photo is subjective.


truth-is-directional truth in shades of gray

Truths, half-truths and untruths

Back on my walk through the neighborhood, I ponder “truths, half-truths and untruths.” The same tree casts a totally different shadow depending on the direction from which we view it. How are we to know what is the right direction? Another direction, another viewpoint. There is no one way of looking at the things in the world. Instead, I try to approach things with my heart, then afterwards try to validate how I feel about them, sometimes using intuition, sometimes my intellect, often both.

palm-shadow-sidewalk truth in shades of gray