Behind the Canvas August 4, 2015 – Posted in: Photography – Tags: , ,

It seems like I’ve know the phrase “There’s more to life than meets the eye” forever. I can’t remember not knowing it. And like a lot of truisms, it doesn’t really mean anything without further thought.

For example, I often look at my garden. I can see it through the back window of the studio. Mainly, it’s an exercise in procrastination. I tell myself I’m thinking about things. But I’m really looking at the pretty flowers, birds in the birdbath, and how it all fits together so nicely. Hmmm, maybe there is more going on there than I realize.

My approach to gardening is what I call controlled chaos. I spread seeds now and then, but I pretty much let the plants decide where they want to grow. And it’s fascinating. They organize themselves so beautifully. All I have to do is water occasionally and enjoy.

I take pictures there often—but only after spending a few minutes experiencing it. And months later, those images remind me of how much I enjoy summer mornings at the studio. It’s like hearing a song from your high school days and remembering that girl who made you blush.

This is photography at its best for me… when I’m not just snapping away aimlessly. I soak in the surroundings first, then make a photograph. By doing so, I have a better sense of what’s going on behind the canvas. Sometimes I can feel the pulse. And I leave with a bookmark for the moment.


My pictures not only show me where I’ve been, they remind me of how I felt. There’s magic behind those images. And when people say there’s more to life than meets the eye, that’s what I think they’re talking about.

I started thinking about all this the other day when I was reading More Than a Rock by Guy Tal. His collection of essays on life and art reminded me that there’s more to photography than the canvas in front of me. And he includes many beautiful images to solidify his points.

You might want to have More Than a Rock around the house. Something to pick up and read when you’re feeling a bit scattered. And once you’ve found the artist again, go outside and make a few pictures.

Derrick Story is the photography evangelist for Rocky Nook Publishing.