On observation

I’ll admit: there are things I take for granted about spending every weekday in a museum. Familiarity with a place can dull your appreciation of it, to be sure—I work down the hall from the first T-rex ever discovered, how many people can say that?—but it can also present an opportunity to experience the place in new ways.

One of the things I’ve come to find the most interesting when walking through our galleries is observing how other people interact with the space: the works they gravitate toward, how much time they spend absorbing each piece, their body language as they move through the exhibit. Everyone experiences culture differently. The same painting to ten different sets of eyes can tell ten wildly divergent stories. It’s a fun exercise to imagine as many as you can.

Of course, I tend to be a people-watcher in general. Years of writing courses taught me that. (Photography has only exacerbated the condition.)

It’s not a bad affliction to have, all things considered. Awareness of the world around you often translates to awareness of the self— and isn’t self-awareness something we should all strive for?

There are a lot of interesting things out there, if we only pay attention. 

Observation is a skill in everyone’s toolkit. Wielding it well can make it a secret weapon.

Putting it out there

I have a problem. A long-standing problem. A problem I’m going to try and combat by starting this blog.

When I was a freshman in college (way back in 2012—yikes!), a professor called me out on this problem. She taught honors English, was a legendarily tough grader (according to her RateMyProfessor.com reviews), and gave me an A on the very first paper I turned in for her class. She returned the graded copy to me with margins full of thoughtfully scribbled notes, one of which left me feeling so painfully exposed that it’s stuck with me all this time:

“Keep writing—and sharing.”

Seven years on, I have yet to apply her advice in earnest.

I can’t even recall what the paper was about at this point (that’s a lie—I just don’t want to admit that I once wrote a deconstructive essay on Glee), but that’s not the point. The point is that this professor saw through the walls I had put up as a timid young writer.  Writing doesn’t do much good in isolation, no matter the level of skill you may have for it. It’s sharing what you’ve written that gives the words purpose.

The same principle applies to all creative pursuits. At the time I took this professor’s class, writing was my primary motivator. These days I’m more driven by photography, but I’m still not sharing the things I’m creating—at least not on the level that I aspire to.

The purpose of this blog is partially to flex my latent writing muscles (a topic I’m sure I’ll address in its own post), but mostly to share photos of my day-to-day life in all of its glorious mundanity. I want to share more than just the Instagrammable highlight reel. There are so many fascinating things out there in this world—so many scenes I’ve passed up photographing in the past, since I assumed they wouldn’t be interesting to anybody but me. An erroneous thought? Probably. Even if it’s not, though, I’m past the point of being motivated by what other people might think.

(Well… I’m moving in that direction, anyway.)

I’m going to try posting something here every day. Some days I might write a lot. Some days I may only write a little. It’s still mostly a mystery at this point. But if I can get myself into the habit of sharing things daily, I’ll consider it a success.

It’s just a fun bonus if anyone joins me.

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