The Power of Aesthetics

Emily - Fort Worth, Texas
Entered on July 12, 2008

I believe in the power of subtle aesthetics. Somewhere between the age of 3 and 5 occurred one of my earlier memories. As the daughter of a journalist I met a number of his employees, often somewhat colorful characters. One in particular showed his boss’ young daughter a photograph he had taken. A 5 x 7 black and white photograph of a fatal car accident. One detail made the photograph especially chilling, a foot propped up in the broken window of the car door. The significance I learned from that photograph is not “there’s more than meets the eye” but “what meets the eye is so much more”.

I’ll never be sure if it was that one incident that sparked my interest in photography but in fourth grade a survey of hopeful professions showed I already had difference interests than those of my classmates. Everyone wrote down answers following along the lines of doctors, firemen, astronauts and even a few lawyers, while my unique answer half the class couldn’t yet spell: photojournalist.

In high school there was one photography class available and it was available to sophomores and older. So, it was as a sophomore when I showed the potential to be a great artist. A number of awards, prizes and one nationally recognized honor later I was on track to achieving my childhood dream. I had the capability to perceive the most subtle nuances without even knowing what I was doing. Judges told me about why they chose my art work specifically. “It was the moon off in the background” or “It was the fact that people are not present” subtle aesthetics that commended my work were almost never intended.

Through out high school I took the same photography class four times, twice, back to back, in my senior year. With that sort of dedication it seemed appropriate that I be accepted and attend a competitive art college in Boston. Two years later and only two classes involving photography later, I left.

I have not taken a photograph with my trusty Nikon since.

In fact this essay with be the first time I will have admitted to anyone or myself that I have had my Nikon – the one given to my parents by a Pulitzer prize winning photojournalist the year I was born – stolen from the back seat of my car. The thing I had previously considered to be my birthright stolen from me.

The photograph shown to me as a little girl with the foot in the car window is not the whole story. There was something that the photographer wanted to let me know. What I learned from him was when he arrived on the scene that foot was not propped up on the door the way it was in that photograph. A moon in the background. The lack of people present. A foot in a window. Some people develop the eye to take incredible photographs, others are unfortunate enough to be born with it, but lack the motivation to continue the art. One photograph laid the track for 15 years of my life. I continue to believe in the power of aesthetics and hope that it continues to bless me in deciding what course my life takes in the future.