We are constantly on the move in our lives, living out our days and nights as life goes on. As humans, we interact with everything around us, whether it is alive or not. Some people interact with the surrounding environment totally awake with open eyes, while others are trying to push their stories to the brighter side with great effort but less awareness.
Obviously, as we all know, humans live in one world. However, on a deeper level, we can divide it into two main worlds: the hidden world and the appeared world. There is silent communication between the two worlds. Life is trying to guide people in their stories and show them the appropriate directions through a natural and intelligent process, which comes from the hidden world and reaches people in the appeared world, and it is doing so through its soldiers: “signs and symbols”.
Humans are surrounded by these soldiers everywhere, all time. They are the messengers from the hidden world who are trying to bring light to everyone’s path. In other words, signs and symbols are the language of life and the bridge between the two worlds. All we need to do, as humans, is to be good listeners and pay attention to these messengers as much as we can.
Generally, signs and symbols play a vital role in humans’ lives. We often see how countries and governments use them in their flags and they are present in official ceremonies and funerals because symbols always carry deep messages within them. Religions also use symbols to point to their beliefs and faith in their Gods. These examples show how people use symbols and signs to communicate with each other or to build their ideas and societies, which explains how humans are deeply influenced by the hidden world and its language even if they are not aware of it. But how, as individuals, can we understand this language and benefit from it?
On an individual level, dreams during sleep send non-stop messages and information from the hidden world. What we see in our dreams is related directly to our lives, to our past, our childhood or even our future. We’ve all heard stories about people who have completely changed their lives after responding to dreams they have seen. On the other hand, there have been many great artists throughout history who used dreams and their signs and symbols in their artistic works. For instance, the main idea behind establishing the well-known artistic movement “Surrealism” was human dreams and their messages. As we can see, dreams are one way how the hidden world is trying to communicate with us and highlight significant parts of our lives, but dreams are not the only way, in the awake time as well the messages keep on coming everywhere we turn.
And that begs the question: where can we find these natural messages from life?
To simplify the idea, I would like to use the famous novel “The Alchemist”, by Paolo Coelho, as an example. In the novel, we saw how life signs were the real allies for the hero in his journey to the treasure near the pyramids. The story shows how “Santiago” responded to nature and its soldiers from the early stages of his journey until reaching the place of the treasure. That can be the case for each one of us if we give attention to life signs and interpret them in the right way.
Still, we need to ask ourselves: how we can see these soldiers in our daily life? In my opinion, intuition plays the primary role in process of receiving these messages. The key to using your intuition is to let go and try not to push or press yourself to find something with a deep meaning. That requires only going with flow and living the moment as it is. In addition, there has to be “faith” in nature and a belief that the signs are working for us. Without this belief, the whole process will not work. Finally, as everything in life, we need to practice this language and be patient to improve in it.
As a street photographer, I find great pleasure in going out to the street, walking through the crowds and being ready to see signs and receive messages. Sometimes the signs point to a subject in my personal life, other times, when I follow them, I find myself in wonderful places with great potential and living stories to capture with my lovely camera. Actually, that was one key factor for me when choosing photos to participate in photography competitions. I used to choose photos that I took after following the street/path signs. This key hides deep joy and forceful motivation to keep moving forward and shoot tons of pictures without feeling tired. Other times, I like to capture these signs and symbols when I feel they are trying to show me something and keep them for myself as a reference and inspiration for new subjects and ideas. The beauty behind this is that everyone has his/her own messages and even when we see the same sign or symbol, each one of us can have different interpretation, based on his/her background and history.
As a result, everyone – and every street photographer- has his own way and his own messages, but I would like to share some hints on what to observe and be aware of while walking in streets to try finding something special. In the streets, life is happening all the time, you can witness hundreds of things and beings, where they interact and how they communicate with each other whether with intention or without. Sometimes, a flying bird over a signboard can point to special moment or memory for you, and from that point the whole day can change. Other times, a written sentence on a wall while an old lady is passing through can bring out a profound feeling and ask you to take the required action in your personal life toward someone who loves you. Or even, a formed geometric shape by the sunlight and shadows on a building can guide you to a specific direction to walk to and explore new paths whether in your photography journey or personal life. That was just to mention few of a long list of inspiring moments and guiding messages.
In this article, you will find photos which I have taken after following some signs, some of them are symbols themselves and show a direction like a natural arrow or a signboard formed by nature. Others are more assembled subjects, similar to what we see in our dreams. Still others are carrying numbers that are special or point to an event or specific memory. That was my viewpoint, and I am sure that everyone can see different things in each one of them.
To conclude, the language of signs and symbols is like an ocean in its size and deepness. It is hard to explain it in one article of course. But I liked the idea of sharing the basics or giving an introduction for it, just to open the door and start exploring this beautiful ocean, to merge it with our photographic journey in order to live more joyful moments and share unique beauty everywhere.