I recently joined a newly formed camera club. At the second meeting, the lecturer taught us some techniques concerning our choice of subjects. He projected various photographs onto the wall, and explained what made them great pictures, or where their weaknesses lay. Each time, he emphasized the need for a focal point. There was no such thing as just a beautiful view. There was always a main focus, perhaps a beautiful rose, a sunset, or a ship.
He showed us a picture of a beautiful garden. Flowering shrubs and shaped hedges surrounded manicured lawns. Overhead, the sky was an azure blue with wisps of soft white cloud—a stunning photograph. High up in the sky, an eagle hovered.
“Where is the focus of this picture?” he asked us. Obviously, the photographer had intended to take a photo of the beautiful gardens. It is likely that he spotted the eagle and planned to include him in the picture. “Notice something interesting,” the speaker continued. “See how your eyes are drawn to the eagle. You look at the gardens. Then you glance back at the bird.” He explained how any animal or bird in a picture always dominates the picture, no matter how small it may be.
He showed us further examples. Sure enough, it happened every time. Our eyes were drawn toward any animal or bird in the picture.
A thick forest stood on a carpet of wild flowers. Nestled on a branch of a gnarled old tree, lay a nest of twigs with three little heads peering over the top. The nest was tiny, the baby birds even tinier. Yet they became the focus of the photograph.
“Now look at this,” he continued. He put up a photograph showing two majestic mountains, one on the right and the other on the left. High in the brilliant blue African sky an eagle or vulture hovered, too small to identify. But the bird wasn’t the focus. Where the mountains came together to form a V, a young woman stood, arms stretched upwards. She was small, but immediately we all reacted. “The woman is the focus.”
The lecturer smiled, then explained that where life, as in animals or birds, dominate a photograph, when a human being appears, he or she is always the main focus of the picture. Don’t you find that interesting?
When God created the world, he created a magnificent backdrop of mountains, seas, deserts, waterfalls, sandy beaches, mighty rivers and dramatic jungles. And He said “They’re good!” Then He created us—men and women—and He said, “They’re very good!” Suddenly mankind was the focus of God’s entire picture of creation.
When God looks at the world, He doesn’t focus on the mountain, the seas, or the other splendours. He focuses on mankind. He looks at you, and he looks at me. He looks at what we’ve created. He reads our writing. Does He smile and say, “This is very good”? Do I make my creator proud?
For me as a writer, this reminds me of the importance of building realistic characters. No matter how good my plot or background may be, it’s the characters that make the story. It’s the people with whom the readers identify.
I write mainly non-fiction, especially of a devotional nature. If my writing is only about worldly or theological issues, I’m not likely to reach my reader. I need to write about real people, address my writing to real people, encourage and inspire real people. Why? Because they are the focal point of God’s creation.
Prayer: Lord God, it astounds me that with all the beauty and magnificence of your creation around, your real focus is on me. Help me to bring honour to your Name, that when people look at me they may say, “God is good—He’s very good.”
Gen 1:1,2 (Excerpts below taken from The Message)
God spoke: “Earth, generate life! Every sort and kind: cattle and reptiles and wild animals–all kinds.” . . . God saw that it was good. God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature . . . God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. God blessed them: God looked over everything he had made; it was so good, so very good! It was evening, it was morning– Day Six