Why I Photographed the Ground During the Solar Eclipse

Endless traffic jams, millions in lost U.S. productivity, and a ton of glasses, but it grabbed the unified attention of millions for just a few minutes. I have to admit I wasn't into it; I didn't care to observe or capture this phenomenon at first, I can't stand crowds or doing what everyone else is. Then I realized this is the only event where millions of people have the chance to photograph the same beauty as one another without being in the same location. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I know many of you had the same feeling of obligation I had to photograph it. As photographers, we have this unspoken duty to be present at events like yesterdays. Whether we wanted to or not, we pick up our cameras and head for the crowd. Now, what do you do with it to avoid capturing an identical image as the next photographer?

I tried to avoid it, I ignored the social media hype and planned on going about my day as usual.  I unsurprisingly almost slept through it, but when my roommate woke me up five minutes before it began I stepped out on my deck just to see how the light looked. I took it all in for a moment. The weird energy made me want to hide indoors immediately. Instead, I ran inside for my camera. The shapes being painted by the eclipse on my concrete deck were memorizing. I laughed at myself as I took pictures of my deck while everyone stared into the sky. At first, I felt silly that my camera was to the ground instead of the total solar eclipse, but when I saw the images I was happy to be right where I was by myself. The total eclipses light painted these glowing patterns in front of me. It was magic I hadn't seen on any other day.

Photography by Gabrielle Colton, Solar Eclipse 2017

Photography by Gabrielle Colton, Solar Eclipse 2017

Photography by Gabrielle Colton, Solar Eclipse 2017

We all get caught up in the popular moments, the moments that are broadcasted all over social media, a topic of everyone's conversation. As we get thrown into the crowd we forget to look around and truly see everything around us. We often need reminders to slow us down and cherish the little things in life again. So, the next time you contemplate bringing your camera to an event such as this, you should go. Capture the small forgotten moments, the ones most walk right on by. Create reminders of the beauty we are missing that surrounds the excitement. In the sea of people with cameras, turn the opposite direction, leave the crowd behind you in curiosity of what your photographing, capture the million other things going on while everyone is focused on one. 

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Dieter Stalmann's picture

I took this photo during the partial solar eclipse in 2012. Like you, I found the images on the ground more intriguing than the actual eclipse. The shadow was cast by a tree, and the eclipse 'images' are made by sunlight passing through the leaves.

kevin perry's picture

Me too.