Seeing in the Suburbs
Very often I have thought that I was running out of things to photograph, to see. My images are usually taken within a radius of three kilometers, in the suburbs, near the utility corridor by the highway. Often, my photographs are taken in my house. And maybe this is the most important thing that this near daily practice of snapping photos has taught me – and I’ve said it before - but the more creative you are, the more creative you are. Your seeing is continually refined, you begin to observe things, nuances, where you’d not before. Sure, there are the days when your seeing becomes dull, your mood squashes your ability to see the brightness of the world. There have been days, weeks, where I thought, well, there, I must be nearing the end as I’m feeling emptied out, done.
But then the light changes, the season changes, and one goes on. You are replenished, somehow, which I think is also the secret of the daily practice: that you will empty out, refill, be renewed, and that you have it within you to begin again, to invent yourself from scratch, over and over. In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard talks about how “every year a given tree creates absolutely from scratch ninety-nine percent of its living parts.” She says, for example, “A big elm in a single season might make as many as six million leaves, wholly intricate, without budging an inch…” She goes on: “A tree stands there, accumulating deadwood, mute and rigid as an obelisk, but secretly it seethes, it splits, sucks and stretches; it heaves up tons and hurls them out in a green, fringed fling.”
You too will fling your great green leaves, you will blossom, but also, you will winter, become spare, soft and sparkling, and dormant and cold. And that spareness, your whittled down winter seeing, will inform your spring seeing. And so on.