Friday, August 28, 2009

Don't Shoot the Mannequins!

When I first went to photography school back in the days of film, chemicals and light sensitive paper, there were some rules. For instance, in almost any class where we were given a shooting assignment, we were told not to photograph:

1. Mannequins
2. Barns
3. Bicycles

It might have been more interesting to be told that if we chose to photograph these ubiquitous subjects, do it in a way they have never been photographed before. Of course, that's an impossible task. But at least it would have encouraged us to consider more carefully how to approach a subject.

In this digital age it's far too easy to see something, think "wow, cool!" and fire off a shot before moving on to the next amazing thing. Snapping a photo can be more of a reflex than an intention. When I'm in that situation, overstimulated perhaps (as in India, almost every moment) it's important to take a breath and remember to be present. This is where my passion for photography intersects with my spirituality. Present moment, wonderful moment. I'm not always successful.

These mannequin's hands were in a window of a shop in the Indian neighborhood on Devon, in Chicago. As I raised my camera I could hear the cautionary voices of my previous teachers. Don't do it! But I did.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Making Art from a Mishap

When a woodchuck beheaded my St. Francis statue, I almost threw out the remains. As I was carrying the body to the trash, my eyes fell upon a newly acquired doll head that was perched on my kitchen shelf.

A body without a head, a head without a, there's a match made in heaven.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Two Janes, Two Canons, Millennium Park

It was so much fun to travel to Chicago by train with my friend Jane a couple weekends ago. Neither of us had much of an agenda; we were just two Janes with our Canons in the Windy City. It's a good thing Chicago is a walkable town, because I needed to pound the pavement after four and a half hours on the train. Just sitting is not my favorite thing to do.

Millennium Park is a treasure trove of photographic opportunities: Crown Fountain with it's video images of faces, reflective Cloud Gate which everyone prefers to call "the bean," Pritzker Pavilion, etc. The people who come to play here are as photo-worthy as the sculptures, fountains and architecture.

Above is a photo of one of the two fountains, with the Santa Fe Building looking a bit conspicuous (at least to me, no surprise!)

Here is part of the Chicago skyline reflected in Cloud Gate:

Three girls danced and danced and danced in the shallow pool:

One girl did a flip...

...and another danced as if no one was watching:

Friday, August 7, 2009

Into White

Cat Stevens wrote and sang the gentle Into White nearly forty years ago. While listening to it in a darkened room, as I was wont to do with his music doing nothing other than absorbing the sound, I felt as if I were swaddled in a cozy blanket. In 2006, Carly Simon recorded a version of the song, rendering it even more soothing. When she dips into the low notes, I'm transported back to that dark room with that comforting blanket, with the addition of being given a piece of dark chocolate dusted with gold.

On Chase Promenade South, in Millennium Park in Chicago, there is a curvy white structure. I walked into it and squinted my eyes, trying to see only shades of white rather than this curve, that curve, this side of the structure or the other. I walked into white.

Of all the photos I took in Chicago that weekend, these are my favorites.