In my undergrad days as a Fine Arts major, I studied beauty at length and even then, it was obvious that the definition of beauty changed drastically from one era to the next. Likewise the way it was depicted changed with time. Picasso painted a portrait far differently from the way Rembrandt did, and yet when I looked at their masterpieces, I understood that they were both beautiful. So it is not surprising to me that the way I see and depict beauty is different from the way others see it. It is something I've learned to do for myself and perhaps that is why I am less likely to listen to or even agree with "the experts" from Madison Avenue or the neighbor across the street!
I was wandering about East Stroudsburg one night with several friends from a photography group. At one point I noticed a rusty chain connected to a fire hydrant and decided that was something I'd like to capture in my camera. While determining the best composition and what my camera was capable of capturing, I felt the presence of someone behind me but decided not to pay any attention to them until I'd gotten my shot. It turned out to be one of my friends taking a picture of me taking a picture! "I just love the way you see things!" he said. I hadn't really thought about "how I see things" until he said that. But it was true. I have a unique way of seeing things and it comes through in what I choose to photograph and how I photograph my subjects every time.
While I do love taking a picture of a lovely sunset, a pretty flower or any other number of natural beauties as much as the next photographer, there is one thing I've come to appreciate over the years more than these more typical subject matters- rust. There is something about its texture, coloration and visual feel that appeals to me. One of my friends said, "Rust finds you!" But, truth be told, I am looking for it! Rust often leads me to other forms of decay- peeling paint, abandoned or broken objects, rundown buildings and rotting wood; it's an odd assortment of "things I love to photograph"!
Why do I see beauty in decay? Perhaps it is because, in spite of all our efforts to live contrary to the law of entropy, both living and inanimate objects break down and die. It is part of life and I see life as beautiful. Therefore every part of it contains beauty. While there are times when something ugly rears its head and tries to overwhelm beauty with darkness and sorrow, it is possible to refute that and find beauty beyond what seems obviously ugly. Photography has developed my ability to see beauty in what others would deem the opposite. I find it in the forgotten and discarded, the worn out and tired, the more rickety and broken, the more beauty may be hidden underneath. That's how I see things and that's how they find their way into my pictures.