Sunday, January 20, 2013

Seeing the Ordinary...

" It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer.  You need less imagination to be a painter, because you can invent things.  But in photography everything is so ordinary, it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the ordinary."
-David Bailey

   So much of my thinking and my camera work is directed to the sacredness of the commonplace; seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary objects of daily life.  This is the very essence of the contemplative photographic experience for me. David Bailey really says it so well.  It truly takes a lot of "looking" before you can see the ordinary for more that its superficial quality.

   In Japanese aesthetics, there is a wonderful term for this way of perceiving the world around you.  It is called Wabi Sabi. It involves seeing the rustic beauty and serenity in objects that are weather beaten and aged.  You look beyond the surface quality to access the wisdom in the object's imperfections.  I was thinking about that when I came across this old door at Glastonbury Abbey recently.  For me, this image is a mixed metaphor.  The "X" denotes exclusion, do not enter, stay back.  It is a universally applied symbol.  The door, however, is slightly ajar and one can just see the tiniest hint of light from a window deep within the shed.  

   I stood and looked at that door for quite awhile. The rough weathered wood, the peeling paint, the "keep out" X.  We all face these kinds of road blocks in our lives, when it is easier to turn away that to pry open the door and enter.  So much easier, as photographers, to stick with the "pretty pictures" than to focus our lenses on the derelict and abandoned.  But as this image implies, there may be much that can be learned with struggling to open those doors.  

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