Perhaps it’s the failed painter in me. Or maybe accomplished painters feel the same…but trying to catch all the variations of a sunrise or sunset is an impossible task. Like snowflakes, if they only fell one per morning and one per evening, they’re never the same twice. Even the wait of a few minutes can change the colors, the clouds, the size of that fiery orb. And then in a few more minutes and a few more and then it’s too late. It’s done.
I suppose in a way collecting sunrise and sunset photos is like trying to empty the ocean with a bucket. No matter what you grab, there’s an unending, unyielding supply of more…more…more, piling up a day at a time, a few minutes at a time. Once you’ve seen a great one, you’ve seen them all, right? Except, no. Part of why I am compelled to photograph them is because they’re incomparable.
I had a photographer friend in Chicago who got up every morning one summer to shoot the sunrise. 100 days. Stupid early hours. But he did it and God and Lake Michigan did not disappoint. I had no interest in photography back then but I remember being stunned by the beauty he captured. Beauty that lived for moments and then died, only to be reborn the next morning.
Perhaps it is not the failed painter in me, or anyone else. Perhaps it is the beauty collector in all of us that’s all too quick to forget and needs the next day to remind. So we shoot and store up as much of it as we can.