Thursday, September 18, 2008

Assignment: Color


Laying on my bed going over the pros and cons of a day shooting in the city when I had just hiked in the mountains the day before, my eyes came upon the books I had set up for an earlier shoot. Set up in the colors of the rainbow, I immediately knew where this assignment would take me.

blue eyes

I was being too literal with the idea of color. The books were telling me that I needed to step outside myself, throw away preconceived notions and photograph inner color. Walking around my neighborhood I see the rainbow everyday, a reminder of the diversity of the people who inhabit the area. People who are very "colorful" to say the least.

I started with myself. The sun was shining bright through my window, I set up my camera on it's tripod and attempted to capture my inner color. They say that the eyes are the window to your soul, and as a person who has struggled with self-esteem issues I've always tried to focus on things about myself that I like. My eyes are a sea of color, changing with the environment that I'm in. The blue from my Irish roots, the hazel from the Cherokee, purple from the Oklahoma fields that my fathers family escaped from during the dust bowl. They are my favorite feature and will always tell you everything you need to know about me.

I leave my home on foot, a previous attempt at this assignment had been by car and I had felt very disconnected from the world thus my pictures suffered, so this time I would be walking. The street was empty, and there was a silence I hadn't heard in all my years being in the city. Before I knew it the silence was crushed by the melodic tone of a love song. I came across a large balding Greek man who was painting the outside of his new restaurant, and I smiled as I realized he was listening to Joni Mitchell.


I continued walking and saw a man sitting on a milk crate in front of the impound lot. He was wearing army pants, a white half shirt and suspenders. His long curly hair pulled back with a rubber band at the base of his neck showing off his multiple piercings, telling world of his non-conformist ways and his snubbing of society norms. All the while, he was talking with a bluetooth in his ear. The hypocrisy made for a funny image and I knew I needed to keep my camera out as this was going to be an interesting day.


Walking down the hill, Cal Anderson Park came into view. The soccer fields were filled with blue, yellow and red streaks of men running back and forth, chasing after an elusive ball. I sat on the field and followed the action with the eye of my camera. The language spoken on the field was not my native tongue and the fluidity of the sound was so musical that I didn't even notice that my iPod had finished the album I had been listening to.

The walk down towards the market was filled with shouts of a different kind. Encouragement, strength, support, and a strong will lead these chants down Pike in a wash of pink. Breast Cancer survivors, family members and friends waved flags and banners, passing the downtown homeless creating a strange dichotomy of the strength and weakness of the human spirit.


When faced with chaos, I tend to retreat into myself. A childlike emotion comes over me and I refuse to do anything. A sort of "No! I don't wanna!" mentality. As I came down the hill into the market I immediately shut down. It was a beautiful Sunday at the end of an amazing Seattle summer and it seemed as though the entire world converged on the market. In actuality it was not my intentional destination and, although there was a street performer festival going on and who are more colorful of a group than they, I was so put off that by the time I reached the park my camera was already put away.

I sat for quite some time on my own patch of grass in the sun, my view facing away from the water and the music coming through my headphones soothing. My eyes were drawn to two lovely women practicing Falun Gong on top of the hill. People rushing from one tourist attraction to the next, homeless street performers banging on a makeshift drumset and the fumes from an artists spray paint canisters did nothing to break the soft transition from one pose into the next.


The meditative process calmed me, and also the hike from the day before had tired me, so I made my accent back up the hill. Passing the square near Westlake Village, I intended to spend sometime with the kids who have congregated in that area more and more over the last few years, however I was detoured by this adorable little boy playing with the pigeons. His mother spoke no english, but we communicated just fine with smiles and a similar subject through our viewfinders.


My last shot of the day I had spied on my way down the hill but didn't take until on the way back up.

As with all my assignments I started out with something in mind and my adventure took it to a completely different place. I set out to capture the colorful characters that inhabit the city, but instead I think I captured the city itself. It's such a wonderful place it's hard not to.

Next assignment to be determined.

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