Someone this week asked me how I learned photography. I told him everything I know was learned on the Internet.
My conversation with this gentleman reminded me of an exercise I did when I first picked up a camera. It was an assignment I gave myself in an effort to better learn composition, color, and ultimately how to see creatively. I began taking a series of photographs of flat, anonymous walls. I called these photographs “photostatic flats,” a horribly vain attempt to sound more artistic. And while the name of said photos was a failure, the exercise was not. In fact, looking back, I think it was a success.
The act of photographing walls taught me a lot of things, chief among them the simple fact that every town, regardless of size, has at least one garishly painted building. My assignment also taught me to be much more meticulous framing subjects. Also, given the fact walls are flat, it taught me a little about depth of field, and the fact a very large aperture could be used in the darkest of alleys because the depth of focus I needed to keep everything sharp didn’t need to be very deep. It also taught me about color, and how color on cloudy, dreary days typically “popped” more than it did when it was bleached by the sun.
These are just a few of the lessons I learned. Frankly, there were many more. Below is a small collection of those shots I thought I would share with you. Some won’t see the point of them, some will. In any case, I look back fondly when I was running around looking for beautiful walls to photograph. Even today I still find myself stopping to photograph a wall or two if they catch my eye.