Today’s photo of a little pile of rubble is a rather mundane image, certainly, but to me it resonates with a significance in inverse proportion to its artistry.
Let me try to explain.
I have felt, lately, that it is time for me to quit this daily photo undertaking. Last week I announced to my family that I was going to call it quits on September 11—a sad day in history, to be sure—but also the 18-month anniversary of the day I committed to take a photo every day for a year.
I completed my first year (without missing a single day) in February, and a bit like Forrest Gump I just kept on going. Since then there has been only one day that I have not taken a photograph. It has become an ingrained habit, to be sure, but more than that I think that on most days, I just take pleasure in the simple act of putting a frame around some little slice of my world and trying to turn it into something beautiful. But still, I’m running low on enthusiasm and creativity, and I thought it was time to quit. Not to quit photographing, mind you—I hope I never do that—but to photograph more purposefully, with more intent and focus, with less frequency and more joy. But September 11 came and went, an inspiring weekend workshop with Joel Meyerowitz propelled me on through my self-imposed end date, and I’m still at it: today, with a picture of rock and rubble.
Oddly enough it’s a picture I really like—more than I should, arguably—but it has meaning to me, somehow. On the most basic level I just find it rather of pretty and interesting: the colors, the textures, the shape—they please me. On another level it’s a very personal picture. On days when I’m grasping for inspiration I stop by a local cemetery and prowl around for a photo. It’s a quiet and beautiful place, and I usually have it all to myself; that alone is usually worth the trip. There is a huge old family mausoleum smack dab in the middle of all the gravestones, and I have photographed it many times, from many angles and in every season. Today I spotted this little pile of rubble on the steps of the structure—swept up, I believe, from the crumbling stone foundation—and I snapped a photo of it. The tasty little morsel of aqua green stone was likely colored by the runoff from the intricate bronze front door (that I have also photographed on numerous occasions), and the simple clutter-y jumble could be interpreted as a metaphor for life and death—the messiness, the decay. The beauty.
But most of all, this photograph was a small reminder of a big fact: there are photographs to be found everywhere. And it was that simple thought that kept me going…for one more day.