How a Photograph Can be the Story of a Life’s Journey by Mike Dooley


Rocky Sunrise at Pt Judith Lighthouse - Mike DooleyHow a Photograph Can be the Story of a Life’s Journey
Article by: Mike Dooley
The story

Standing on the beach one cold winter morning, it struck me how much alike a landscape and life could be. Both are full of challenges that try to prevent us from reaching our goals. That morning the waves were crashing hard along the rocky shore, spraying my camera and myself with a cool ocean mist. The wind was howling off the water, threatening to tip my tripod and smash my camera on the rocks below. My goal was to photograph the Point Judith Lighthouse at sunrise, to create the perfect photograph of this Rhode Island icon to add to my print galleries. Photographing the lighthouse that morning seemed a daunting task.

As I explored the beach in the dark hours before dawn trying to find the perfect location for my tripod, I could not help but stop and observe what was going on around me. Mother Nature was pounding the coastline, and the beach between me and the lighthouse was treacherous. The lighthouse at the end of the beach was a beacon of safety, and often marked the end of a treacherous journey for mariners. I hunkered down behind some giant rocks, in a nook that sheltered my gear and I from the elements.

It dawned on me (how is that for a pun?) that the scene in front of me was representative of life itself, and the journey that we all make. Treacherous, rocky paths that we must travel, waves crashing at our feet trying to pull us out to sea. Powerful, gusty winds try to knock us off our feet. It can seem as if the whole world is conspiring against us, trying to block every attempt we make to reach our goal. That goal can be a relationship, a job, financial freedom or anything really. Our goal, like the lighthouse, stands tall in the distance, beckoning us to continue our struggle, motivating us to carry on in the most difficult of times. We carry on.

Point Judith Lighthouse

The Point Judith Lighthouse sits at the western entrance to Narragansett Bay and at the northern entrance to Block Island Sound. It is a highly traveled area, and the waters are cold and dangerous. The area is often referred to as the “Cape Hatteras of New England”.

The lighthouse was first established and built in 1810, and stood for 5 years before being destroyed in a hurricane in 1815. A new replacement tower was built in 1816, which lasted until 1856 when it was replaced by the structure that we see today.

The unusual paint scheme of brown on top and white on bottom for the concrete tower itself was chosen to make the structure more visible to daytime maritime traffic. In 1954 the operation of the light facility was automated.

In a quest to help protect shipping, a lifesaving station was established at Point Judith in 1875. The facility has evolved and grown over the decades, but the service has never stopped. To this day, USCG Station Point Judith is a very busy facility with a crew of 50 that staff the light, the grounds and several different life saving boats.

The Print

I created several pleasing compositions as the sun came up on that blustery winter morning. The photograph that you see here, “Rocky Sunrise at Pt Judith Lighthouse” was my favorite, and is the latest addition to my online print store. Each of my prints is crafted by a local print house, by people that I know and trust. While beautiful printed on any medium, I have a feeling that this photograph would look stunning printed on canvas!

Each time I look at this photograph I think about my life’s journey. I have walked along the rocks, and felt the wind try to knock me to the ground. I have felt the pull of the ocean trying to pull me out to sea. I have fallen, and I have failed, but I have gotten up and continued on my way. I think about how far I have come, and how far I have yet to go in my own journey. I am a father, husband, friend, photographer and a survivor.

Rhode Island Photographer Mike Dooley

Mike-Dooley-300x300About Mike Dooley

Mike Dooley is a fine art photographer based in Rhode Island that is passionate about creating photographs! Mike specializes in creating stunning fine art landscape and seascape photography. Mike is passionate about the art of photography, and takes great pleasure in applying his unique and creative vision to the variety of scenes that he finds in front of his camera. Mikes landscapes and seascapes are recognizable by their bold colors, striking compositions and masterful displays of light.

Mike is located in Warwick, Rhode Island, and spends much of his free time exploring every nook and cranny of the Ocean State. Mike also routinely travels to many of the other communities located in and around New England in search of subjects for his photography.

Mike is active in the photography community, and recently served a term as the President of the Photographic Society of Rhode Island. Mike’s work has recently been featured in the March 2014 issue of Shutterbug Magazine.

Mike’s Photography

Fine Art Photography is a highly creative art form, and Mike will often spend hours on a single photograph, working a scene to capture that magical moment. Mike enjoys all forms of photography – landscape, seascape, portrait, and still life photography. It is not a style of photography that Mike loves, but rather the creative process itself.

Mike’s goal with his photography is to show you things that perhaps you see on a regular basis, but in a different way. A new way that will perhaps make you stop and wonder. From a grand landscape to a simple pair of basketball sneakers left in the middle of the floor, Mike can find beauty anywhere.

Following Mike

You can keep up with Mike and all his latest photography adventures on his website, as well as on a host of social media platforms.

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