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Finding the Picture with Brooks Jensen

Finding the Metaphor

I've always thought differently about travel photography than most photographers. Yes, I travel to see new things and to experience exotic locations. But when it comes to photography, I have no doubt that those who live there have an advantage. As a traveler, I simply cannot know a place like a resident can; I won't see the exotic location in the variety of weather, local activities, etc as the resident can. They can and will likely do far better photography than I could -- assuming the objective is to show the place. Instead, I leave that kind of photography to others who are better capable of more thorough and dramatic description.

For me, a different goal makes more sense. Rather than describe, I try to feel. Rather than portray, I hope my artwork evokes. Rather than use photography to transport you so you can see through my eyes, I tend to use photography to connect with others through a sense of personal diary that taps into a more universal human experience. This is why I can travel to exotic China and make abstracts of the asphalt. My photograph may be made in China, but not necessarily of China.

Here is an example. My first day in Kyoto, navigating the back streets walking to the bicycle rental place. I found the scene more urban than Japanese. I'm a small town guy and the urban chaos is not in my comfort zone.

I wanted to feel exotic Japan. What I actually felt was a tad claustrophobic and somewhat lost. Resting for a moment on a bench on the side of the street, I just looked, tried to get in touch with my feelings. Nothing in the neighborhood was threatening, but it felt so overwhelming. It was organized, but not yet understandable. Glancing overhead, I found the picture -- the perfect metaphor for the way I was reacting to the surroundings.

Tech data:

Panasonic G9 using a Panasonic 12-60mm f/2.8-4 lens at 34mm. ISO 200. f/5.0 at 1/800th sec.