It’s not, of course. There is just a man, there is a bird and a mysteriously lit stretch of sand.
But the man – dark coat, collar up, intent on his descent… is there a gun in that pocket? Surely, he has no reason to be going down to the beach in what is clearly an early winter evening lit by the moon hiding behind the clouds.
And the bird: a very dark creature, unusually solitary. Surely not linked to the man… or his actions, though its presence has assumed cinematic intentions because of the mirroring of the direction of gull and man.
The bird’s not tame… couldn’t be, could it? A dark-coated man hurrying down mysteriously lit steps to a brightened beach… guided by a dark bird?
And then the strange band of light affecting both the rocks and the promenade buildings, beyond. Do we speculate a boat with a searchlight? Possibly a police boat chasing the man and his seagull accomplice? And have we caught the scene at the moment of his arrest? What a useful photo that would be for the papers the morning after!
And that’s the difference between the film director and the photographer. The director would be compelled – at least in some small measure – to explain what’s really going on…
Whereas the photographer knows he has only a few such moments of captured, extraordinary reality, and why spoil it when so much fun could be had by not knowing?
©Stephen Tanham 2021
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.