I find natural light to be astonishingly beautiful. In this image of a young monk in Burma, I love the organic presence of it and how it enhances the intimacy of the moment. The cat and the young monk are connected, embraced by light.
Although there is a place for artificial light; its features are often mechanically engineered to be constant. Alternatively, natural light—without human intervention—changes from rich glowing hues to a flat white to dark blues during a single day. Remarkably, it can be harsh, bristly, coarse, abundant, buoyant, soft, diffuse, warm, or cool. And it is real, so we can be fascinated by something that actually exists.
The focus in a photograph, on the other hand, is distinctly intentional. Precise focus is used, along with depth of field, and causes something to fall away and another thing to become sharp. The less focused environment becomes a supporting space, which allows us to center on one key component.
In this image, the potency comes from this clarity surrounded by comforting softness, which to me represents grace. I see grace in the slope and glow of his neck. We imagine the cat rising from his lap, stretching, and moving away, its limbs flowing in coordinated ways like that of a dancer. And coming from the pages of his study books, there is the grace of enlightenment. Illuminated by outside light that has not been grasped for or earned through human effort, there is the gift of warmth, literally, on this boy and his cat, and in our mind’s eye as we perceive and give thanks for natural light.