Friday, August 14, 2009

Symmetry Matters...or Not

I suppose at best I'd consider it a little quirky. I mean, after all, it's not debilitating or anything. Who hasn't at least thought of straightening the picture frame gone askew, the stack of brochures gone all higgeldy piggelty and does the toilet paper roll come over the top or from the bottom? My wife will sometimes point out that I don't really pick up my clutter...I merely arrange it into neatly stacked piles. Stacking my clutter into neatly stacked piles tends to bring order into a chaotic world. I was going for symmetry, "an imprecise sense of harmonious or aesthetically pleasing proportionality and balance on either side of an axis; such that it reflects beauty or perfection." Okay, so I'm willing to admit...maybe...neat stacks lend themselves to the illusion of order in a sometimes chaotic world.

So what does this have to do with photography? In a word, symmetry. I used to find myself challenged by insuring that objects in the frame of my photograph confined themselves to right angles, e.g. no crooked horizons, no tilted or skewed angles. Look, I shoot photos for a newspaper. A rectangle piece of real estate populated by things with right angles. But at some point I had to stop and ask myself what this really accomplished for me photographically and the people and situations I was attempting to portray. I wasn't really bringing about order by missing opportunities to shoot things that didn't stack neatly into my own quirky little world. I remember a quote from the teen movie "The Breakfast Club" that I've held on it since first hearing it. Stuck in weekend detention Judd Nelson's character John Bender tells the teacher watching over the "detainees" that "Screws fall out all the time...sir...the world is an imperfect place."

Hey, this is the kind of stuff I think of. But, in reality, when it comes right down to it, the most important thing I've learned in taking photos through the years is to shut up and shoot the photo. The world just doesn't fit into neat little stacks. Or maybe I'm just full of crap.

Where do you read your newspaper?


Noah said...

Did you set it on a timer and then hold it out?
or how did you do this?

Rick said...

Put it on a tripod, pre-focus, set the exposure, dropped trough and posed for the photo!

toni said...

i totally thought someone let you snap them in the process of elimination.

PerezImagery said...

love it... you should start a whole new series, different toilets with the daily paper