Recently I walked to Ponte Santa Trinita an hour before sunset. I particularly enjoy watching the sunset from this bridge because of the brick walls bordering both sides of the Arno, the arches of the Ponte alla Carraia are reflected on the water, boats traverse the river in both directions, and ripples on the surface of the Arno change with the shifting of the wind. While the sun is setting and the clouds are shifting in shape and size, the view is transformed: a variety of colors blaze across the sky and are replicated on the water.
I try to focus on each of my senses separately when I’m watching the sunset. My senses are tuned into the wind caressing my face and pushing back my hair, the sunlight warming up my face, the colors splashing across the sky, and the murmur of voices and car engines passing behind me.
When I saw a renaiolo (boat) carrying a few passengers glide slowly toward the sunset, I leaned my legs against the stone wall that was still warm from the summer sun. I positioned my iPhone in front of me and tucked my elbows in tightly against my body. Right before snapping the photo, I took in a deep breath and held it. Afterwards, I released it.
Initially I thought that maybe I held my breath so the photo wouldn’t turn out blurry. However, I discovered that I held my breath every time I took a photo. While I have always believed that photos contain my emotional state, I wondered what it meant if a photo also contained my breath.
I wonder if it wasn’t a photographer who came up with the expression “to take a person’s breath away” after they took a photo of the beauty they were delighted to witness.
Now, when I hold my breath while taking a photo, I do so with more awareness. I see it as a way to take in a single moment, enjoy it, capture it in a photo, and share it with others. Even when I look at the photo of this sunset, I am transported to that moment on Ponte Santa Trinita when this moment literally took my breath away.
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