Sunday, July 10, 2011


The visual medium has always eluded me.  I remember art class being a special kind of torture as my drawings never quite conveyed what I hoped they screen print t-shirts fell short of the mark... my clay pots turned out wobbly and bent...and the seams in my hems never followed a straight line.  My mind could see all sorts of possibilities, but my hands just seemed incapable of conveying it the same way I could see it in my head.  Maybe I'm just wired wrong...

So, I effectively gave up on creating visual art favoring, instead, the use of words to creatively depict the world around me.  It's a serviceable alternative that has worked for me for years...but I never fully shed the desire to communicate visually as well.  I'm affected on an emotional level by the things I see...and it frustrates me to be unable to capture and share that reaction with others.  My need to communicate tends to pervade everything else and, happily, will force me to overcome the obstacles in my path.

The computer turned out to be a bit of a saving grace.  I began to learn a little about composition and visual communication through my publication work with the Chamber of Commerce in the late '90s.  I wouldn't fare well in comparison to a trained professional, but I don't really have a need for that.  I was able to create visually interesting designs that enhanced the message.  Success!  Even though I stopped doing publication work when I left to work for the government, I'm still able to let my visual composition side come out and play through the creation of (eleventy squillion) Power Point presentations.  After more than a decade of sating the muse through these substitutions, however -- and particularly on the happy occasion of being "almost done" with graduate school -- I've found myself lately craving something more...

 At some point in the "how do I want to fill my time after grad school" fantasizing, it occurred to me that I'd like to try photography.  I spend a good deal of my free time on blogs like Apartment Therapy and Dooce and Mighty Girl and I realized that I love the photos on these sites because they make me feel something.  I couldn't tell you a lot about composition or foreground vs. background interest or whether or not the midtone colors are balanced...but I know when a photo strikes an emotion.  And I suddenly realized that I (very much!) wanted to be able to create those moments for myself and for others.  I've always been able to see the beauty (and oddity and wonder and...) around me....and I can put the words around it to convey the moment to someone else...but maybe the camera would allow me to capture that moment and share it!  So I spent some time taking stock of this notion (was I sure this was what I wanted to do?) and decided to take the plunge.  For my birthday this year, I bought myself an entry level SLR and jumped in.

Photography, like any art form, is a craft that has to be honed...and I have a long way to go.  I'm slowly learning (in between actual classes) about the technical details of the elements I only felt before...  And I'm learning a LOT about culling and editing.  I'm sharing my finished photos with friends who have photography experience and listening closely to their feedback.  I'm told it can become an addictive and expensive hobby...and I have no idea yet how far I'll take it.  For now, it's a rush of excitement to be able to see the first glimpses of effectively capturing and freezing a moment...and a bigger rush still to contemplate pairing my words with an apt photo.  I can't do much with it for the next six months or so, but the dream is slowly taking hold.  

Today I'm taking photos...hopefully some day soon, I'll make art.

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