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Ugly photos?

Last week I had a new thought: why do we always try to take beautiful photos of people and nature? You know what I mean, those spectacular sunsets, astonishing macros, and heart-rendering smiles of our children (for which I am definitely guilty) . Sometimes the chase for that perfect photo seems to go on forever, leaving us unsatisfied with what we actually have accomplished.

So today I am rebelling. No more of that cutesy, mushy stuff where everything has to look perfect. Today I am going after those ugly shot.


I grabbed my camera in one hand and Clara in the other and set out for my “ugly” walk. We didn’t get more than two steps until I saw this. It’s a part of our backyard fence, and yes, it needs to be washed. Ugly, huh?


Outside the fence our Syringa tree has been attacked by the neighbor’s cat. Now, is that ugly or what!


Someone dropped a sock. Ugly… and smelly.


Speaking of smelly… No, Clara, don’t touch that!


Another fence, one that has decided to make this branch a permanent part of the family. Or is it the branch that’s starting to eat on the fence? Creepy…


Something bad is coming out of this pipe into the pond, cause the smell is less than desirable.


I hope none of your children do this, throw litter in a smelling pond. Definitely ugly.


A bit of moss is attacking this tree.


I have no idea what this is, but it’s ugly… in a cool kind of way.


A poor pine cone is dying under the pressure of the gravel masses.


Oopsy Daisy, what have we here!


These giant thorns are found in the hedge behind our house.


Finally, although this is not that ugly, it’s still a very unusual photo of my three-year-old (No cute pics today!). I just wanted to show that at last she’s growing some hair… sailing here in the wind.

It’s interesting, you know, that putting up these photos has given me some new thoughts. The first thing I learned is that if you’re looking for ugly things, they are so easy to find; you don’t even have to look for them, because they seem to be all around. Searching for beautiful things, on the other hand, takes a bit of effort, and is all together bound to a different attitude. We call that optimism.

The photographer in me likes that word. Optimism is basically what drives me to take photos – even in this kind of strange exercise above. Because the great challenge for a photographer is learning to see beauty even in the unattractive. Today I had set out to show some ugly photos – and some of them were just that – but if I think about it, some were rather cool as well.

That’s why I like this quote by Ambrose Bierce: “Optimism. The doctrine or belief that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly.”

So this is the second lesson of the day, that everything beheld is always in the eyes of the beholder. We see what we want to see. Here’s another good quote to illustrate that: “Only in relation to our imagination can things be called beautiful or ugly…” (Benedict Spinoza)

How about that! 🙂


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