Ordinary Magic

We are bombarded with images.  Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook deliver cute, scary, heartwarming, devastating, lush, and stark to our mental doorsteps every day.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a photographic documentary of a puppy raised with a lion cub who become lifelong friends as much as the next person.  I just think that we are exposed to ordinary magic every day and we miss it because we are just not present.  (That is probably a heavy handed thing to say – coming from someone trying to entice you to look at my images – so I will apologize for the potential hypocrisy and move on.) Take this image for example.  Two girls, the daughters of best friends, separated by eight years in age.  The older has been holding the younger since she was born. And since that time, they have weathered the normal and not so normal challenges of childhood.  Though at times fighting like real sisters might, this picture captures the truth of their relationship. It is a late summer night by the fire and the younger is cold. She cuddles up on the older girl’s lap in her blanket.  They are rapt looking at selfies they just took on a phone.  Ordinary magic.


I think it is amazing that everyone carries a camera now, if only on their phone.  The pictures my friends post on backpacking trips or vacations are amazing.  Whether you are carrying your Nikon or your iPhone, don’t forget to capture the ordinary magic that is  right in front of you.  Be present.  Look in wonder not just at the larger landscape of life but of the single tree or branch or leaf.  And don’t miss the things that are perhaps not traditionally considered beautiful which might hide that ordinary magic.  The image below was taken on the Snohomish River.  It was low tide at the mouth and I was waiting for the launch to move out.  As I started to look at the bank through my lens, I was captivated by the contrast of mud and rotting pilings to grass and reeds on shore.  More so even when I discovered that the grass reflected in the lazy water creating an image like a watercolor painting.  Mud and rotting pilings are not widely viewed as lovely but lovely was not what I was going for. Ordinary magic: the underlying beauty in all things revealed here as the tide receded.


So here is my advice, keep your camera with you.  Be present and see with your heart.  Capture those amazing and rare landscapes you come across.  More importantly, capture those ordinary magical moments that make your breath hitch and your heart clench even when you look at them many, many years later.

Copyright Catherine Matthews 2017.

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