The catalyst for my interest in photography was the death of my dearest friend, mentor and Mom, Ann “Mom” Higgins. Ann was a student in the very first graduate class I taught at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in 1977. She was a brilliant student and graduated three years later from the Graduate Reading Program which I head. A couple of years later, she decided that I needed a Mom, because my family was all in Jamaica. She became Mom and I became her fifth child. She was a very important part of my life for twenty years. Her death in September of 2009 left a vast hole in my life. Because she was an avid birder, I felt solace in driving out just before daybreak to meditate and to grieve. It was on one such morning in October of 2009 that I had parked in the parking lot of my church, deep in grief and tears. I looked toward the heavens and saw the most riveting sunrise. This picture completely captivated me. It was as though I was given a gift that allowed me to see real beauty and to have real peace. I rushed to our 24 hour Wal-Mart, bought a small Sony camera and took my first picture of the sunrise.
Thus began my passion for and my obsession with the Colorado Sky.
As my passion grew and I gained more and more experience with the beauty of the Colorado Sky, I found myself categorizing the morning skies into three distinct groups: dawn, sunrise and daybreak. Each has a real personal interpretation for me.
Dawn includes those mornings when the night slowly lifts and the morning gets lighter and lighter. On these mornings, there really is no sunrise evident in the sky. Yet, the day has arrived. The night simply lifts and the day emerges. In my life, I equate those mornings to the normally developing days in my life. I am grateful for life and for seeing another day, but there are no real dramatic events that are happening in my life.
Sunrise includes those mornings after periods of minor illness or minor emotional difficulty. Those mornings when I realize that I am indeed feeling better for the first time in days. The pain, the illness, the emotional distress has finally lifted and I feel clear hope for better days ahead. The dark clouds have been replaced by the glorious sun: the sun has indeed risen.
Daybreak includes those mornings after major negative events when it is clear that I have been delivered from major negative incidents: the long awaited results of a biopsy, the news that a dear friend is out of a coma, a baby in severe distress who now is born healthy. These are much more than sunrises. It seems as though God took His great hammer and shattered the darkness. The dark clouds have been forcibly broken and the sun declares its dominance. These are the most dramatic skies.
In my life, I have experienced all three morning skies. I have been privileged to capture each category in the Colorado Skies.
The major theme of my photographs reflects the connections between earth and heaven. As such, the vast majority of my photographs are of the Colorado Sky shot through trees, bushes, shrubs or grasses.
My favorite photographs are those of the sky shot through the unclothed branches of trees. I try not to edit or modify my pictures in any way.
I take what I see. I want to show what people see as they experience life. I do not try to avoid light posts, fire hydrants, electric lines, buildings or vehicles. I want people to view what they might see in their environments. I so want people to get pleasure from what is provided for them free each and every day. There is such endless beauty to be enjoyed. My hope is that people will get pleasure from the beauty of our Colorado Skies!!
My inspiration still remains the memory of my dear “Mom” Higgins and all my photographs are dedicated to her loving and generous life.
Colorado Sky by Barbara Swaby©