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EMP Building Detail – Variation 2 – Seattle Center – Lower Queen Anne – Seattle, WA

Yesterday I asserted that this post and the previous one were essentially the same image realized very differently. A few points that will clarify my thinking:

    • Both subjects are entirely composed of metal.
    • Both subjects are framed in such a manner that they form their own universe. In other words, the larger context in which they exist is eliminated. If fact, unless you had prior experience with these subjects, you would be hard pressed to figure out what the camera was pointed at.
    • The metal in both subjects have gained a patina that did not exist at the time the finished metal left the foundry.
    • Both subjects use repetition and symmetry in the composition.

Enough with the list making.

I find exercises like this interesting because they reveal our biases and limitations as artists without regard to the medium employed. Actually I think this theme runs deeper and points out our personal strengths and weaknesses. There are a least two useful conclusions here.

First, being aware of these parameters should allow us to avoid becoming trapped by our choice of subjects, or, at a minimum, find new ways to express them. Secondly, being aware of these parameters should allow us to quantify what makes up our artistic voice.

I am not formally trained as a visual artist or writer. In fact I can sum up my complete formal training in these areas right here: An art history course, two Photoshop courses, and a few writing classes in college. Thin at best.

What is not apparent in that list are the hours spent in the library going through book after book of great photographic work and the hours spent taking really crappy images while at the same time honing my intuitive eye. The same goes for writing.

There are only a handful of truly great artists in a billion people. We should be thankful for that as it makes what they create all the more wonderful and for the rest of us, mere mortals that are cursed with an artistic bent and limited talents, inspiration to press on.

My parents, when I was growing up, were thinly comfortable, financially, and as a consequence they would find inexpensive ways to emulate a much richer lifestyle; hence the series of second-hand autos, an old boat, and a just like new camping trailer.

Out of these three items, the last would have the greatest impact on my life. Beginning in early spring and deep into fall we would, with great regularity, travel the Pacific Northwest. From those travels I learned how to explore the nooks and crannies of the western American landscape, and, since I was an only child for years, they often ended up being my imagination’s best friend. Quietly and quite unnoticed, I learned where my friends lived and how their faces looked and felt.

In terms of photography, these experiences formed the basis for having some ability to understand how to frame these open spaces, and to isolate those details that reveal a bit of the poetry in those places.

At times I wish I could point to a grander purpose when I am out photographing the world; however the reality is the process is quite ad hoc and in fact is rather predatory in nature. Traveling down unnamed dirt roads is a very random process at best. This subject matter is my first love to photograph and will always remain my deepest.

Copyright 2012 By Katherine Johnson – All Rights Reserved.