David Murphy: My Peter Lik Story
By David Murphy
You could say I lost to Peter Lik six times this year. In one contest, the Epson International Pano Awards. Peter achieved six silver awards on the photos he entered while my entry received a bronze award. The competition received over 3,500 entries for 2011. One of those was mine, my first effort at a panoramic taken during civil twilight the morning of October 24, 2010.
The moment was captured from the rocks across a small cove along the shores of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. I dedicated the stitched composition to the memory of my mom, Doris, whom I lost to stage 4 breast cancer back in 2003. I believe she played a role in it, even though she’s gone. I don’t mind losing to Peter; after all, he was the one who inspired me to see a bigger picture than I could fit in a single frame.
I was introduced to Peter’s work by some customers of mine last summer. They had recently taken a trip to Vegas, that had included visiting one of Peter’s galleries. I was helping them pick hiking shoes for their own journeys outdoors. You see, I work full time selling shoes for a 97-year-old family footwear retailer. Photography is my passion outside of work. When my customers mentioned a photographer they thought I would really respect, I decided to look him up right then and there. I wasn’t sorry I did. Peter’s work inspired me to look for even more opportunities to get out around my home in Southern Maine and seek out my own “cracker shots,” as Peter says. Maine is a tremendous natural resource with a wealth of photographic opportunities, regardless of the photographer’s level of experience.
Thanks to Peter’s show on The Weather Channel, I was able to put the name “civil twilight” to the phenomenon I encountered and preserved the day my son turned four weeks old. Peter’s travels each week opened my eyes to new possibilities and challenged me to always make my best effort. I appreciate his eye for composition and share his love of dramatic skylines and cloud structures that add character and depth to those compositions.
I wonder if any shot I take will top “Doris’ Dawn” for me. Peter speaks of moments when he triggers the shutter and something transcends the moment. In that image, it felt as though I had stood before the gates of Heaven and had them open to reveal a glimpse of the eternal. About three days before my mom died, she prayed a simple prayer: “Lord, thank you for the sunshine, even though we can’t see it. We know it’s only because it’s where it’s needed most.” A week after I took the shots, in my mind, I could almost hear her ask, “Lord, if ever you were going to paint the most breathtaking sunrise I could imagine, the son you gave me is down there, and he’s waiting for this.”
And thanks to Peter’s inspiration, I was truly ready to seize that moment.