“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
― Ansel Adams
I saw this Ansel Adams quote on Instagram (thanks @lyndango) today and had an immediate and visceral connection to it. I wasn’t always a photographer, in fact, I am only now beginning to identify myself with that description after taking and posting daily photos for more than a year and a half. It is that daily practice that has transformed my photographs. Before I took photos of people I loved and things I wanted to remember, but I didn’t put a lot of thought into the composition and I didn’t pore over my photos the way I do now, thinking about the messages they carry and convey to others.
I am coming to understand this Ansel Adams quote as I reflect on what I choose to photograph and how I choose to compose my photographs. Even the editing process draws on my experiences and interests.
On a rainy Saturday morning, in the midst of the San Diego Area Writing Project Spring Conference, I was drawn to the windows to try to capture the rain and its energy through my lens. It’s hard to see rain through my camera lens…but the rain splattered window helped me out.
And I love the juxtaposition of the name of this building, The Sun God Lounge, with the rainy morning.
And across the room I noticed the interesting lines of the window panes. As I walked closer, I could see the distinctive architecture of the Geisel Library through the lines of the panes. Even though I have been in this building many times before, I had never noticed this view of the library.
I like the iconic eucalyptus trees between the window and the library building…trees that are prevalent on the UCSD campus.
And yesterday we experienced the rare stormy day at school. My students were fascinated by the bending of the palms… “Look,” they said as they pointed! “The trees are bending.” I like the way this photo not only captures the wind and windiness, but also the school-ness of the context with the four square courts in the foreground.
I definitely bring the pictures I have seen, the books I have read, the music I have heard, and the people I love to my photography…and my photography brings them back to me, helping me to better understand who I am in the world.
How does photography impact your understanding of the world? Or do you have another form of art/creativity that serves a similar purpose?