Blog | Architecture of Seeing

A blog for photographers about art, aesthetics and conceptual issues explored in a way that I hope will help photographers reach beyond their technical skill set to become better artists, writers, and thinkers.

Desert Morning

I'm having some trouble knowing quite what to say and how to say it when I am blogging because I am not use to it yet. My first entries were about architectural work with some weightiness to them, and now I want to chill a little. So I'm mixing it up with some journaling. I've been looking at this image lately, realizing that it brings me back into the moment when it was made. It really does for me what photography is suppose to do. I can look at this and feel what I felt early in the morning on the desert with a camera and a good cup of coffee. The air was crisp, cool and fresh. The day lay ahead unencumbered by worry. The sun seemed to breath life into everything inanimate. 

I grew up in North Carolina. I have lived in Florida, New York City, upstate New York, San Francisco, New Mexico, and Los Angeles. I knew when I got to New Mexico that there is nothing like the desert – I felt relieved of a heavy weight and released from close quarters. I couldn't stop staring at the view on the landscape where you can look out and see unobstructed miles of land with thousands of years of geological time etched across it in detail. The light dryness of the air and the clarity of light cannot be found back east in the moist climes and like now,  I wanted to photograph everything.

It also reminds me of my early years studying photography, and realizing through the work of artists like Walker Evans and Paul Caponigro, that photography has its own distinct set of qualities that have to do with a particular way of seeing and knowing about the world. The stillness in a sunlit room begins to have its own intrinsic meanings, images become markers for memory. My awareness about what matters shifts from factual tensions in the immediate past and future, to a visual sensitivity about the presence in a state that Uta Barth has called "ambient vision". I become inspired and excited about nothing much at all - just the details of things lying about on tables, or the wrinkles in the sheets by the window.

When I look out across the desert in this state of mind, it draws me into it like a magnet. I go out wandering without knowing exactly why I came, what I am looking for, or what I expect to find but it doesn't seem to matter much as long as I have a camera, a hat, and enough water to keep from doing harm to myself. The act of photographing in that way is more than documenting the landscape or details within it, it's a way of completing the experience of seeing before I move on. It may be a form of madness now that I think about it and actually write it down where other people might read it. But if it is, it's a madness I am ok with.