PHOTOGRAPHY… NOT “DEMOGRAPHY”: Art Brings Everyone Together
Sometimes we like to say or think, “Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could get along, if we could communicate easily all we say and think, our hopes and dreams and plans?” We can communicate in spoken and written words and in other ways as well.
“Communication Manhole Cover”. Divi Logan, Chicago. 2013.
There are those who cannot speak, and those who cannot write, at least in the conventional methods most people understand, with the computer or with pen and ink and pencil and paper. When language is a barrier, when we cannot understand the standards of Sign Language, and when music appears as foreign as a tongue with which we are not familiar, we can use other ways to get our message across.
One way is art, and what a broad range of expression that covers! We think of painting, dance and music; we think of sculpture, architecture, bronze casting, batik, and skywriting. We see people in the studios dreaming up ways to hack into the marble block or figure out which line to put in next on a drawing; we think of designers of cars and planes looking to the future, and we can envision the astronomer pondering ways to use the space telescopes to image distant galaxies and stars. We can follow the lead of that astronomer and, in our own special ways, “write with light”, which is the fine art of photography.
The arts transcend every barrier humans can create, any of the nonsense of demographics, of census bureaus, of departments of commerce and of those who wish to lead our nation in Congress by those very examples of separation and division, which in the long run do much more harm than good.
Why would anyone want to do more harm than good, or any harm at all? Those are subjects for another time; for now we want to concentrate on the good that “the arts” can do for us and for our nation and our world.
“The Arts” are so elemental, so basic to us that we wonder how schools can cut such programs even in the most budget -strapped of situations. We need our artistic forms of expression in order to release stress, in order to focus on the special gifts we have, in order to share our talents and our unique natures. Those arts listed above are fine ways to tell others what we think and how we feel when words escape us.
Writing with light is a special art form; photography has been around for more than one hundred years and it is an art in which anyone can participate. In photography, all the demographic lines are erased; the person holding the camera is not “black”, or “white” or “man” or “woman” or “ethnic” or “income”. The person is a photographer, and they have something to say.
With that camera in your hands- be it a SLR, a DSLR, or a rangefinder, with whatever film format you choose, or with memory cards ready for video or for a few hundred photos of special occasions, you are prepared to tell the stories of others or your own special tale. You have the means of helping others speak. You can express thoughts and plans in your mind that you might not be able to put words to but which the image, which what you see can tell. The person on the street, the landing plane, the dragonfly on the tree or over a pond, the incoming storm and the building being constructed speak to people in different ways, and anything can be used to help express something in the brain.
What do you want to say that perhaps cannot be said with ordinary words, but which a photo can say? The picture is worth a thousand words, goes the proverb, and by taking one simple photo you can look at it and write about what it says to you.
Look at the photo – what are the elements in it?
Here is a photo I took at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The dominant feature is the Red- winged Blackbird, a standout with its distinctive colors. It is on a rail over a bridge that overlooks a pond where other birds feed and nest. But there are other things you see in the photo besides the bird. What about those flagstones, or the metal of the rail, or the grass, or the branches? Might those things say something to your audience?
Here is an interior I photographed. There are many things here, and what might the picture say? What is special about the room- the chandelier, the furnishings, the drapes, the lighting, the way items are placed on tables, or the dividing column on the right? If you photograph a home, inside or out, professionally or casually, some element you see might just speak to you in a way you did not expect, and it could be very pleasant and enlightening.
Use your camera to help someone else tell their story or stories. Is there someone in your home or community that cannot speak or walk, an older or disabled person that wants you to take pictures of memories in their home or business, a person that is unable to take photographs? Offer them the use of your hands and eyes and camera gear; tell them you can help out and will gladly photograph for them. Perhaps they want to make an album to share with relatives or others that will factor in their later lives. Offer to use any artistic talents you have to help them create an album or scrapbook.
Naturally you can use your photographic skills to branch out and start your own business or work for a media company. You can do events such as weddings and holiday parties; you can become a field photographer for a news corporation… there are so many things you can do, including photographing sports, working for transportation companies, and working for interior design magazines or architects. Combine the skills of photography with other lines of work, such as going into the military or the fire department or astronomy, and the horizons will expand.
As you take your camera up today and think about how to use it, consider the good you can do with that specialized equipment. How will you “write with light?”
Divi Logan for ®EDUSHIRTS, Chicago, ©2013.