“Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.”
Sometimes I’m amazed by what I don’t see – that I can walk down the same street I’ve walked down a dozen times and see something interesting or beautiful that has always been there, but that I have never noticed. The exercise of abstract photography makes it easier to actively look, everywhere you go, and it makes life – even the most boring parts – undeniably more exciting.
“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”
This is a photograph of a storefront near the University of Arizona. Cheap Chinese noodles, walking distance from the photography department on the corner of Park Avenue and Speedway Boulevard. And yes, I agree with today’s quote quite a bit. My vision is that anything, any and all visible things, are interesting – and if viewed the right way, from the right perspective, with the right temperament, any and all visible things are exquisite and beautiful.
That’s why I’m in the business of making pictures.
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
McNary, Arizona, is only about ten minutes down the road from Pinetop-Lakeside. Unlike the Pinetop community – with curio shops, antique malls, and a well-established network of cabins, resorts, hotels, and restaurants – McNary is a forgotten, depressed community with collapsing buildings, open dumping grounds in the middle of residential neighborhoods, and shuttered shop windows. The population is around five hundred people, eight-six percent of which live below the poverty line.
Here’s one of the old shop signs, covered with graffiti, bulletins, and the faded original paint.
“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
Simple words, but profound. We live in a world that Adams never could have predicted, where phones have camera lenses that outperform most film cameras from the last hundred years, where every single citizen is in the business of making and distributing images. Now that everybody has access to the technology, and now that everybody practices with social media – facebook and snapchat are the real juggernauts – the photographer is easy to miss, and the photographer is motivated to try and look at the world differently, rather than just document it.
Perspective is everything.
Where you stand is everything.
Everybody is in the business of making pictures now. But not everybody is in the business of making unique images. It still takes determination, creativity, and skill to make memorable photographs. Selfies at the bar are a dime-a-dozen, and there’s a great big world out there.
While wandering around in Creel, Mexico, I gathered tons of images of posters, signs, storefronts, and interesting garbage. This one, obviously, is a play on words, as ‘sin’ in Spanish simply means ‘without,’ which is a radical departure from the English ‘sin.’ Nevertheless, I found the textures and layers of this weathered advertisement really dazzling. I know that minimal and semi-abstract imagery isn’t everybody’s particular cup of tea, but I know that there are some of you out there who understand.
I hope you like today’s ‘image of the day’ and scroll through other images from this sprawling project.
One of the things that photography, and the volumes of underlying science, have taught me is that there is an aesthetic beauty implicit in the process of decay. When the veneer is stripped away, and as common objects are vulnerable, new textures surface. When we peel back the skin, we see new things – and we usually spend most of our waking lives trying not to see what’s beneath the surface.
Gray’s Anatomy. Diagrams of dissected bodies. Scars and scratches on once-pristine buildings, automobiles, billboards. We close our eyes in most cases, turn our heads, and ignore the viscera. I’m rather attracted to it.