Disposable cameras, haphazard, curiosity driven shots, every now and then finding a gem amongst the ground shots, skewed framing, blurred and otherwise poorly taken photos post-development: these are my earliest memories of photography. At about eight I began pestering my mom for something, anything, to take photos with; her pocket-size Olympus, cheap no-frills disposables- it didn’t matter. I loved the idea of photography, even if my skill was non-existent. The day a newly developed role of film (this was before digital was prevalent) was ready, I could only manage to hold in my anticipation for so long before I started devising excuses as to why retrieval couldn’t be put off until a later date- I wanted to see what I had created, and then go out and do it all again. I think in many ways that is how craft, passions, develops - playing with the medium, experimenting, sorting out what it means to the individual, what it is that draws someone back again and again.
In the years that would follow, I would take many awful photos, ones I now look through and laugh over. But I would also be drawn to the challenge of trying to capture a moment in accuracy and detail, my eye especially seeking the unique, story-filled shots, and cursing every time I was without a camera when such glimmers occurred.
While states-based, photography beyond snapshots at events always seemed to fall to the back when design projects beckoned or my schedule felt too full. But in the year plus of life international, it has risen to the surface, meeting a very real need for creativity and creation as the reality is that much of what I did in Oregon is impractical in the immediate context of Beirut, and the larger picture of a life lived impermanently.
The “1 For 100” project came from recognizing that I’m healthier when I’m creating, and because of the allure of the challenge (as well as inspiration from a few friends). To consciously take photos each day is not as easy as it sounds in terms of practicality (having a camera handy) or seeing past the perceived mundane to find hidden intricacy, form, and beauty. Truth be told, if someone isn’t careful, this kind of project can very easily digress into photographing random objects around the house (which, yes, I did do at some points). I was surprised by how much I learned about my photographic and design preferences, and ruts, over the past three-plus months, and how easy it is to go through a given day without seeing details, the nuance that makes a photo come alive. To complete this project meant being aware, meant seeing the daily and mundane with different eyes; the concrete of my neighborhood became a lesson in lines, texture, and layers and a glass of wine, a reminder of the interplay of color, light, and viscosity.
The following are some of my favorite shots from the project, and thoughts on why. I wasn’t snobbish about what form of camera I used; some of my best shots have been taken with my iPhone. Nor was I against using apps to experiment with color and filters.
The Guggenheim Museum in New York City: bold lines and geometry, which came to life all the more through a black&white filter.
Manzanita Fireworks: thankfully there was just enough light left to provide a good silhouette of the mountains while the beach bonfire illuminated the smoke. The couple added another story-laden element.
Beech Creek Shadows: this is hands down one of my favorite shots in a long time. The interplay of light and shadow was perfect. Sometimes a good shot is more luck than anything else…
Science Experiment: the colors were dynamic, but more so this is a simple shot loaded with memory. An afternoon of Grace’s insatiable curiosity and constant clamoring to do “science experiments”, in this case using food coloring to dye Queen Anne’s Lace.
Graffiti: I think perhaps one of the more unappreciated art forms but when well done it can be breathtaking. I smile every time I pass this particular piece, and love the detail of the guy’s spray can color and the girl’s hair bow.
Barn Sunset: between the diffused light, content, and silhouettes, perfection.
Roots: This shot came alive with the black&white filter.
The cabin: the patina of the filter captured something of the spirit of this place which means so much to me, and is indescribably layered with memory.