For many years I have felt like an alien, but not anymore! I love it here. Yes, I do understand that there are certain things that are far from pleasant and should be acknowledged. I believe that those concerns are being thoroughly taken care of by every social media and news outlet imaginable.
I’m up to something different. My whole schtick is that beauty is everywhere. I take pictures that demonstrate the magnitude of magic that surround us minute-to-minute. It’s not miraculous. A miracle is rare and unusual. What I am talking about is everywhere, common and normal.
Take the other day for example. I needed to get my oil changed. The guy said the wait would be about 45 minutes, or an hour-and-a-half if I wanted to take advantage of the free tire rotation. Sitting in the waiting room with a big TV playing news was not how I wanted to spend the next hour of my life. Actually, that, as an option never occurred to me. I went for a walk with my camera.
Right outside the door, I immediately saw all these lines lining up for my edification. I had a few different lines of thought about how to compose this particular configuration. Not knowing and then knowing is half the fun. I just watched for a while until I saw what it had to say about itself. I talk to myself a lot. I talk to the world all the time. It seems to be alive. Listening, my body followed directions to the position of the scene. We both took a look, made a decision, took a different look, until we both felt just right, thanked each other and moved on.
Having learned about playing with the lines, we moved on down the line and searched for other interesting ways they would behave in another part of the galaxy twenty-feet away.
When a picture appears, I feel like I’m there at the location’s request. I’ve come to this conclusion because it knows me so well. It’s always giving me more of what I like, but this time it was just showing off. It knows I like lines and it knows I like pictures that are almost impossible to look at and are beautiful all at the same time.
Not everything makes a good picture, but everything is worthy of appreciation. Sometimes it is just a design lesson to simply get more experience about how to put shapes together. It is the same muscle we developed when we first played with blocks.
The setup in this picture is like any commercial shot I would have taken for a brochure or annual report. Shooting commercial work is also like playing with blocks. What I learned in that setup I now apply to all the rest of my pictures. I no longer think any of it as different. I really enjoy watching the blocks balance on top of one another.
I didn’t make it very far. The Tesla Showroom was right next to the garage where my car was getting an oil change. This shot was taken with my phone. All that playing with shapes stuff sure pays off. Just as I got the shot, my phone dinged a text to say my car was ready. I felt both delighted and rushed. What revelatory images did I miss by rushing to get things done? That thought took a couple of seconds. You see, I needed to hurry up to do what I love doing so I could have more time doing that. I had to remind myself ten seconds before the ding I was doing just that. In the distance, across the road, behind the shopping center, I saw a shiny object and was off and running.
When I arrived at this spot on the planet, I thought this could be what the world looks to an alien. You can see that it there is something before you, but you just don’t know what to make of it: What is the gold thing? Is it nailed to the side of the wall? It glows. Is it sacred? What are those other two yellow cylinders? Are they alive? Do Earthlings pray to it or are they protecting it? (I don’t think it is either.) Look at those other ones that on the other side of the plaza? They look like they are just hanging out. It must be something else.
When I reached the yellow uniformed group, another individual had my full attention. His/her huge, bright, alien eyes looked right at me. We didn’t talk much. We just stood there looking at each other. It took a while before we figured out to say “Hi!” There was nothing alien about it. We saw ourselves in each other.
Then, like walking out of a movie, I stepped into a new scene. Except for the palm trees and the hill, it could have been any shopping mall in America. I waited for the two white cars to reach their respective positions, all the while hoping the silhouetted woman did not move at all.
At that point, I thought it was all over and walked another ten minutes back to my freshly oiled, rotated-tired car.
I showed the garage guy the pictures. Earlier, we had talked. When he saw my camera, he told me he liked taking pictures too, but didn’t have a real camera, he just used his phone. I said that that counts. No one was waiting in line, so I asked him if he had to would show me his favorite pictures on his phone. He showed me his pictures until another person got in line.
Back in my car I felt ready for the road again. I pictured myself at my nephew’s wedding in the desert near Joshua Tree. In the picture I realized I needed a light short-sleeve shirt. I rarely shop for clothes, so it took a moment to realize I was in a shopping center. On the way back to my car with my new shirt, I saw a woman wearing yellow walking towards me. I also saw the yellow truck and a yellow wall. I grabbed my camera, leaned against the car and waited for the right moment. When it all came together, I wondered how I only saw the color yellow. The red stripe on the socks coordinated well with the red stripe on the street. That made the picture. Well played. I love being fooled. Which is to say I love to be surprised.
I took one last drive in front of the entire façade of the shopping mall. This two-story tall face, which resembled a shaggy-haired surfer dude, called out to me for one more picture and one more good-bye. There was no reason to resist.
It’s not miraculous. A miracle is rare and unusual. What I am talking about is everywhere, common and normal.
This is not to say that I walk around in some child-like bliss all the time. However, I do like to give myself the option to play.