Dearest Anne and Caleb,
The year was 2003 and Aunty Min and I were students in Tucson, Arizona. In the evening, I drove to the mountains to photograph the sunset, as I often did, while Aunty Min caught back-to-back episodes of "Friends".
The skies were a flat grey – terrible conditions for a sunset – and it was threatening to rain. Were it not for the narrow mountain roads that made it hard for me to turn back, I wouldn't have driven all the way to Gates Pass.
Every evening, the carpark at Gates Pass would be 3/4 filled, with families hiking up the trails and couples snuggling up the side of the mountain waiting for sunset. I was the only one there this evening, and it didn't look as it I was going to see any sunset at all due to the very thick cloud cover. I took a short hike up to the vantage point, looked around a bit and headed back to the car.
"Wasted trip", I thought to myself.
As I started the engine, the skies glowed a most unreal blue. I grabbed my camera, ran out and took photos from the parking lot.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/annegirl/10722657/" title="Gates Pass at Dusk by Lucian Teo, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/8/10722657_dfcafd5d0f.jpg" alt="Gates Pass at Dusk" class="img-center" /></a>
Like Shawn Colvin's song goes, "I never saw blue like that before".
And I'll share with you the one principle which I hope you'll take with you wherever you go, whoever you meet.
It's usually the ones you give up on – where the skies seem the most hopeless and the sun doesn't look like it's ever going to pierce through the clouds – that yield the most breathtaking photographs.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/annegirl/3313432705/" title="Marina Bay at Dawn, Singapore by Lucian Teo, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3533/3313432705_4363d11518.jpg" class="img-center" alt="Marina Bay at Dawn, Singapore" /></a>
God works in ways that are higher than man's ways. "Hope does not disappoint" (Romans 5:5). Your mother taught me to believe in the best in people, however flawed and hopeless, because we are all flawed and hopeless; it is not for us to judge. It's a lesson I'm still learning to this day. But I've seen enough "hopeless cases" turn out to be the best of us and many bright sparks fade into darkness.
Carrying a camera bag is a heavy burden, and it doesn't guarantee an emergence of photo opportunities. But you'll be ready when and if they appear.
Dearest Anne and Caleb,