Friday, August 17, 2012

Grace Notes

Celebrating El Bautismo, 2012
(Click on image to see larger.)

Sometimes when you’re out taking pictures you get a little gift, a little something very different from what you expected to find. I like to think of such gifts as the grace notes of photography.
I received one of those gifts a couple of Saturdays ago when I went out to take pictures of people on the beach. I walked along the water’s edge looking for interesting people. I found some and photographed them. But just as I was getting to the place where I was going to turn around and walk back the other way, I came upon a group of Hispanic men, women and children conducting a baptism in the ocean.
I arrived just as the formal ceremony was ending. The baptized were standing up in the waves and walking up from the ocean. Some were wringing out their wet robes. Family members swarmed about with dry clothes and warm and loving embraces. You didn’t have to be a person of faith to feel the pride and acceptance the people who were baptized felt. It was in their smiles and in their looks of contentment.
I don’t know whether these people are members of a specific church, or not. There were no banners and nothing anyone was wearing or said identified any group. The man who looked like he might be in charge wore no vestments.
My usual approach upon witnessing an event that has such meaning to its participants is to hang around the outer edges and give the participants—in this case the members of whatever congregation this was—some room to enjoy their celebration and privacy. But these folks were out in the middle of the resort beach. The baptism took place in the midst of hundreds of other beachgoers.
So, like others who were coming and going from the surf, I stepped closer into the company of the congregants and lifted my camera. I took a number of pictures in just a few minutes. But this is the one that best captures the joy of what I saw that day.

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