York Minster Windows

SSA Photography (344 of 400)

I am indebted to many of my past teachers and professors, but there are those who leave a more lasting impression than others.  My Latin teacher, for instance, was one of the most influential teachers I had in high school, and she prepared me so well that my Latin major at Wake Forest was all but a foregone conclusion.  We all use Latin daily, whether we are aware of it or not.  Us Latin geeks are more tuned in to the derivatives, and we make conscious decisions to use Latinate words wherever possible (in lieu of that vulgar German stock).

As a lawyer, I am a writer first and foremost.  It is my craft.  As a photographer, too, I view the world differently than most attorneys.  Indeed, I perceive the world aesthetically through an artistic lens, whether or not I am behind my camera.  This appreciation for art is due in large part to my AP Art History teacher.  When I was 20, I saw my first cathedral outside of my art history books.  It was on a trip with my wife and her family to Europe.  We stopped for a day in Mallorca, and I made a pilgrimage to La Seu (Palma Cathedral).

I stood before the great vaulted entrance for a terribly long time, for the first time in my life appreciating the magnitude of what Judy taught me.  I took in the carvings and the arches, and then once inside, I looked with a child-like wonder at the rose window.  I walked down the central aisle in the nave (knowing, of course, what this part of the cathedral was called), and for the first time it struck me that although I had memorized the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, I had never known what it felt like to physically stand under Michelangelo’s handiwork.  I couldn’t tell you how the chapel smelled, or what sensation I had when I first walked inside.  But now, standing in the dimly lit chapels of La Seu, I knew what it was to be inside a gothic cathedral.

Last summer, I visited Anna’s family in England.  Her cousin/godmother lives in York, and we went for a short day trip to visit Alice.  Alice had inherited a tortoise from the previous owner of her home, and he was nearly one hundred years old.  Kemper still asks about the tortoise, and this will be his memory of York (for now).  For me, however, I will remember York through the photographs I took of York Minster, the grand cathedral of York.  I will remember it, because I understood it.  I will remember York Minster, not just because of its august presence, but because I was taught to appreciate the buttresses and the vaulted ceilings by an uncommonly wonderful teacher.

In many ways, I think I missed my calling.  I am always mildly jealous of my best friend (Nora’s godfather) who is a professor in North Carolina.  I was helping proof a paper for which he allowed me to contribute some research, and I was overcome with a modest pang of regret (made all the more acute when I had to turn back to the Response to Petitioner’s Motion to Dismiss that I should have been working on instead of immersing myself in the effect of language policy on the colonialization and Americanization of Puerto Rico at the turn of the 20th Century).  But I am happy where I am in life.  I have a job I enjoy at a firm I adore, and I will always have my photography and my writing.  I owe all of these things to my teachers and professors, especially those select few whose lessons continue to teach me to this very day.

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Remnant

SSA Photography (376 of 400)

I studied art history in high school and college, learning from incredible teachers and professors.  I went to museums and saw visiting collections, but I never stood in the middle of St. Peter’s square or under the arches of a gothic cathedral until 2006 when I stood in La Seu, visited Pompeii, and walked into the middle of the Piazza San Pietro, marveling at the history that surrounded me.  Yet something about Bolton Abbey, the skeleton of which I captured in this photograph, struck me more than even walking through the ancient streets of Pompeii.  Perhaps because I was older, I had a new appreciation for the feats of architecture.  Perhaps, too, it was because I was alone with my camera and my thoughts, not being bustled about by tour guides or other eager tourists.  Whatever the difference, Bolton Abbey was more majestic to me than even St. Peter’s.  It is a memory, a remnant of time gone by, of the monarchy, of the Reformation, and of the shifting sands of faith.  While other abbeys were deconstructed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and all that remains of them is rubble, Bolton Abbey remains – like a fossil, its bones bared and resolute.  When I stood in the nave, I placed my hand on a monolithic column, lingering for a moment and hoping to physically connect to the priory.  With the weathered stone pressed against my hand, I wondered how many generations had set their hands upon the stonework, and at that moment I felt truly connected to a continuum of time – those who had come before and those who would come after to admire the remnant as I had.

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