Linda Grashoff's Photography Adventures

Clay Gully Origin—13


December 31, 2015

While I was walking the path along Clay Gully, I thought, as I often do, about what I photograph and why. I’m aware that many photographers  have clear social aims with their work. They draw attention to homelessness, poverty, world hunger, crime, war, discrimination and prejudice, climate change, and other problems. Me? Mostly I photograph what I find visually attractive in the material world. On December 20, the day I took the photographs in this recent extension of the Clay Gully Origin series, I wondered for the hundredth time: Is that enough? These are the words I used to query myself: “Are there more important things to say than that the world is beautiful?” The answer I heard in my head that day was “no.” There may be more effective ways to say it than my way, but no. That the world is beautiful is one of the most important things to say. For one thing, it can lead to saving the beauty, saving the planet so that humans have a chance at a future. No doubt I will ask this question again, and again. Maybe I will answer it differently the next time. What do you think? Are there more important things to say than that the world is beautiful? Please leave a comment below.

12202015 Myakka River State Park-141

14 responses

  1. Thank you for capturing the palette of life.

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    December 31, 2015 at 6:34 AM

  2. Thank you for your observation, Barry.

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    December 31, 2015 at 6:59 AM

  3. That is a very personal question and one that an artist will probably answer differently than most. I’m not sure if many people really consider the beauty of the earth but wouldn’t it be nice if it were more appreciated than it is. Excellent image, btw.

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    December 31, 2015 at 9:01 AM

    • Thank you, Ken. What do you use your photography to say? Is it the most important thing you have to say? Do you say the most important thing in other ways? Publicly? Only to close friends and family? Perhaps not out loud at all? (Don’t let me push you. 😉 )

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      December 31, 2015 at 9:14 AM

      • I never thought I had an agenda to photography but thinking about it it probably would be something simple, like “Look what I saw today!”. It’s a sense of wonder at the most ordinary of things.

        Liked by 1 person

        December 31, 2015 at 9:21 AM

  4. leslie organ

    i asked myself the same question as an interior designer and as an artist and my answer was always that the world needs creators of beauty. beauty is a necessary part of life which sustains the human spirit.

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    December 31, 2015 at 10:30 AM

    • Thanks you for this, Leslie. In my case I’m not so much the creator of the beauty as the one who points to it, but I think your point applies. Aren’t we lucky to be in the beauty trade.

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      December 31, 2015 at 10:43 AM

  5. nannus

    There is a section in John Steinbeck’s “The Log from the Sea of Cortez” (unfortunately, I don’t have the book at hand where I currently am, in Stuttgart, I left it in Hannover), where he is talking about the importance of collecting animals from a tide pool (the book is about a zoological expedition to the Gulf of California). He compares his impact on the tide pool with the impact of the fishermen who catch shrimps and that in turn to the importance of bombs falling in world war two (and the stars are not moved by it). He is asking if any of this is important. I remember the statement (I don’t know if those are the exact words): “Either none of this is important, or all of it is.”
    The point is that there is no single framework of reference from which to judge importance. And art (and science) must be free. If you impose a single frame of reference, you end up with the tyrany of systems like socialist realism or the taliban.

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    December 31, 2015 at 11:13 AM

    • Thank you so much, Nannus, for another of your thoughtful comments. You have sent me back to Steinbeck, whose Grapes of Wrath and Cannery Row I read decades ago. Now I think I would like to read The Log from the Sea of Cortez. The John Steinbeck section of the Wikiquote website has the passage to which you refer:

      “…Let us go,” we said, “into the Sea of Cortez, realizing that we become forever a part of it; that our rubber boots slogging through a flat of eel-grass, that the rocks we turn over in a tide pool, make us truly and permanently a factor in the ecology of the region. We shall take something away from it, but we shall leave something too.” And if we seem a small factor in a huge pattern, nevertheless it is of relative importance. We take a tiny colony of soft corals from a rock in a little water world. And that isn’t terribly important to the tide pool. Fifty miles away the Japanese shrimp boats are dredging with overlapping scoops, bringing up tons of shrimps, rapidly destroying the species so that it may never come back, and with the species destroying the ecological balance of the whole region. That isn’t very important in the world. And thousands of miles away the great bombs are falling and the stars are not moved thereby. None of it is important or all of it is.

      Thank you, Nannus, for your level-headed understanding of importance and for sharing it here. I’m tempted to remove my opening text on this blog post . . .

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      December 31, 2015 at 4:19 PM

      • nannus

        Hi Linda, yes, exactly, that is the section of the book I had in mind. I personally like reading non-fiction, and books like this interest me more than novels. If you liked “Cannery Row” you would like the Log, because it is from the same area and some of the people in it are probably the real world models for some of the characters in that book.

        Liked by 1 person

        January 1, 2016 at 9:42 AM

  6. I’ve been struggling with similar questions myself, because I’m simply drawn to what I find beautiful, and is that then “wrong”? Something that helped me sort this out, was to listen to Alain de Botton on “Art as therapy”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFnNgTSkHPM . It’s 45 minutes, but I think fully worth it, as he talks about the role of art in society and, most of all, for ourselves as individuals, to help us deal with our lives. I hope you find something in there that supports you to continue what you are doing, without any doubts around it!

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    January 2, 2016 at 9:32 AM

  7. Thank you for joining this discussion, Gunilla. I enjoyed watching the whole video “Art As Therapy.” It does forgive us for being attracted to beauty. Poking around the School of Life website, I found “What Is Art For?, “a shorter version of what I think is the most important part of de Botton’s message. Here it is on YouTube” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sn0bDD4gXrE.

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    January 2, 2016 at 3:08 PM

  8. Great thought-provoking, heart-provoking question. I love being reminded of the value of uncovering and sharing beauty. I daily forget.

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    January 16, 2016 at 10:31 PM

    • Yes, I think we all do, Sally. That’s why I like to have a camera with me all the time. It’s a reminder to look. You may know this quotation from Dorothea Lange: “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

      Liked by 1 person

      January 17, 2016 at 10:26 AM

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