Saturday, June 5, 2010

Photo thoughts 2 -- my favorite pictures

I wrote yesterday about what I consider to be photogenic places, with some illustrations. I’m sure more than one of my readers took one look and said What is wrong with her???? Those are the ugliest pictures I’ve seen in ages.

I hit the “publish” button on that post immediately before I went out on my walk, and as I walked I meditated on what I consider to be a good picture. Of course, what you think is a good picture is probably a pretty decent window into your soul. So if I riff on what I like to take pictures of, I hope my soul turns out to be more attractive than my studio.

Probably my favorite category is pictures of what people do to their surroundings. I like architectural shapes and details, constructed geometric forms and patterns, work in process, roads and bridges, old buildings, shadows cast by or upon the built environment. I like funny statues that people put in their yards and stuff that they throw out for junk pickup. I like to find tables on the lawn and sofas in the alley.

I like the meetingplaces of manmade and natural; a glorious landscape is more interesting to me if there’s a house or a church or a road in the picture. And a patch of day lilies is more interesting if there’s a flagstone walk in front or a fence in back. I like the textures made by lichens on stone walls, by bricks on driveways, by wires against the sky.

Of course, as awesome as the power people have to shape their surroundings, nature always fights back, and I like to see that too. I like peeling paint and crumbling concrete, sagging doors and slumping roofs. I like to see weeds growing luxuriantly through cracks in the sidewalk, reclaiming vacant lots or colonizing abandoned buildings.

And I like pictures with a little humor to them, with a little quirk, pictures that surprise you with unexpected juxtapositions or make you wonder how or why that came to be.

This is not the only category of photos that I look for, although I could easily spend the rest of my life shooting only in this ballpark. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about some other categories I like.


  1. Take those photos to please yourself. I like them and really like your approach to why you take them, too.

  2. My soul is a Formalist. In photographs, paintings, fabric art of all kinds, I see shape first and most emphatically. After that, texture and color; last of all subject matter (if any.)

    This means that I enjoy your photographs a lot. I don't comment on them much because it gets boring typing "Oh, wow!" over and over.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  3. Hi Kathy, Wouldn't you know, I love alleys too! I never go to really nice neighborhoods, I love things that are aged and weathered.