Finding the Center
Attending the Stanford University powwow in May is an annual rite for me. Like most traditions, it helps me find my center. It’s a good way to begin a new season of Native American celebrations, and it’s close to home.
Yet within the comfort of tradition, it also feels important to find something new. That’s what I was seeking when I created this image. I’d been experimenting with new ways to see traditional dancers when I noticed the overwhelming flood light in my camera frame. Instead of going with my first instinct – to eliminate the large, distracting white light from my composition – I decided to make it part of my subject. Though this is a night shot, the huge light becomes the sun. Many Plains tribes practice traditional Sun Dances, which once were banned and then later restored by federal law. In these communities, this ceremony marks the beginning of a new year. It’s a time for them to renew their traditional spirituality, asking for a good year for their families and tribe.
This photograph shows the timeless dance at the start of summer, when night and all it represents transforms into day. The sun is at its zenith and a dancer celebrates life.