This one, like the subject matter itself, was a test of patience and persistence. "The Awful Rowing Toward God" is a poem by Anne Sexton, and while I have tried to get my hands on a copy of it since I came across this beautiful title a few months ago, it proved a little hard to find. Again, like the subject matter itself. Perhaps it is best I never read the content or gleaned the angle or intent from her point of view - the title is rife with vast spaces for interpretation and significance all on its own, and I new what mine was going to be about, regardless of her original words. If you follow along with my work and take the time to read these descriptions, you probably know or have guessed by now that I am an atheist. That has been my stance since my early 20s, and is highly unlikely to change, but I was not raised atheist or even agnostic. I was raised Catholic. Went to Catholic school. Was an altar boy. By the time I was entering college, free of the dogmatic schooling of high school and grade school, I had nothing to do with any of it - wanted no part of it, and didn't believe in the Bible as anything more than allegorical morality tales set against the wildly erratic "God" and his so-called words. My need to believe is the same as anyone's though - we simply need meaning or purpose in our lives - and it is hard to plod through the days and years without it. In college, I was searching for something - a philosophy, a religion, a concept that rang true, that I could believe and use as my foundation. Nothing rang true. None of it has. And this is my point, and what I am trying to convey in this imagery. I was given a direction, a basis, and was schooled on it, and nothing called to me. I went searching for it, and nothing found me. I stood on the altar of the church, and all I saw were drones repeating tired words over and over again, devoid of passion, not even questioning the words they uttered. In other words, I was a receiver, and nothing was transmitting back! I firmly believe that we were created with five senses for a reason, and as sensory beings, we rely on them to convey information. Faith, elusive and quaint, denies us our primordial logic and insists upon itself, unsubstantiated and baseless, that we "believe." I just don't. We evolved to require proof, and we demand it in our lives, our legal system, and to each other, so why is God and the afterlife getting a free pass? Regarding the image, I wanted my rowers to be older men, weary, searching with tired eyes at the vastness around them, the often inhospitable, turbulent world they find themselves in, and finding nothing. Our central character looks of into this distance…at what? It cannot be answered, it is unseen, much like the God he is searching for. I added "hat lights" and "antennae" as suggestions of a search - looking for proof, waiting for a signal, and they will likely row towards nothingness the rest of their days! The raw images for this piece were shot in a variety of ways - many with the model standing on the floor simulating rowing, like these three, and several with him kneeling on a stool rowing in a more aerodynamic pose I started working with those shots, and I decided the rowers would not be in boats, but rather rowing through the air, over a cemetery. I hated it. The rowers, once the stools were painted out, kneeling in thin air, looked like they were playing Quidditch! I started over with different shots, and some 60 layers later, it looked like this. I opted for stark black and white this time - something I never do, because I thought it spoke to the piece more than the sea foamy green I started with. Model: FelixThank you for viewing and reading. Please do not be offended if your beliefs contrast mine - I am merely stating my opinion, and I mean no disrespect to yours.

Discover more inspiring photos like this one.

Download the FREE 500px app Open in app