I’m often asked how I “find” my photographs. My answer is always the same, “I’m always looking, everywhere I go.”
A Reductionist Approach
Graphic design and photography have taught me to see in abstraction; to view things not only for what they literally are, but also for the visual components that make them up. Through practice I’ve taught myself to quickly reduce what I’m seeing into lines, shapes, forms, space, color relationships, textures, patterns, and reflected light. These stripped-down components reveal new connections and metaphors, allowing my imagination to take over. For example, a child who has not yet been taught what a suspension bridge is might notice its long, stringy cables and imagine a giant octopus or spider.
Children have far richer imaginations than most adults, perhaps because we spend our whole lives having it beat out of us in school to make way for the facts. Facts are good and necessary, but imagination and creativity are also extremely important tools for critical thinking and problem-solving. In many ways the artist’s lifelong pursuit is to hang on to and enrich imagination to facilitate new revelation of the beauty, excitement, sorrows and joys of life.
The Bot Invasion
A few months ago I was with my daughter at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. While she was engaged in simultaneous playing and learning I glanced out a second story window. My artist brain went to red alert, sensing potential for a photograph. I focused my attention on the scene, opening myself to what it might show me. As I began mentally composing an image, the story began to simultaneously unfold in my mind like a Gary Larson comic:
“I watched in horror from the second story window as the bots mounted their attack from the roof…”
I took out my iPhone and captured the scene, smiling wryly to myself at the silly whimsy of my imagined story. After sharing my snapshot on social media I was pleasantly surprised at how many people responded positively to it, taking the time to indulge my imagination. I knew I had to get back there to capture this with my camera, so the next time I took my daughter to the museum I brought it along.
So, that’s the story behind Bot Invasion. Remember, my friends, to feed your imagination and indulge in the occasional bout of whimsy. I really do believe this is where many of life’s joys are, hidden in plain sight.