An Eye for my Eye

April 27, 2011

Someday soon I'll post the story of how I got into photography and how it is truthfully not my most flattering story, which is probably why I'm waiting to tell it.  But this story is towards the beginning and was truthfully vital to my understanding of what it meant to have an "eye" for photography.

It often bugged me that my husband and I could take pictures of the exact same thing and his would look like they belonged in National Geographic and mine looked like the snapshots tacked to the wall of the down-trodden 16 year-old girl in any John Hughes movie.  As I learned the language of things like aperture and shutter speed I thought my photos would improve but the truth was I was trusting the technology more than I trusted myself to try anything out of the ordinary.

One day, the Art Institute in Chicago was having a free day and Noah and I with our extremely limited budget decided to spend the $2.50 each to ride the El downtown and commit to staying less than two hours so the ride back would only cost us $.25 each.  We walked in with our camera and immediately were bombarded with images that in my mind would have been photographic gold.  After 10 or 12 failed images on my part, Noah took the camera to capture two statues:

The photo is beautiful, and then I attempted the same one, failing yet again.  I was so frustrated I gave the camera back to him and said it was no use.  He, being amazingly patient with my fits and starts, handed me the camera again and said to stop trying to be him and just be myself.  I moved around the statues, got yelled at by the guard who reminded me that I could not touch anything, including the platforms under the pedestals that the statues were on.  I looked for what I saw, what looked interesting, what I felt might work and ended up with this picture:

I was amazed and confused.  Was that luck or was it really a decent picture?  Noah smiled, telling me I did a great job and that he was proud of me.  He later went on to show people the picture explaining how impressed he was with his wife's "eye."  I began to realize that maybe I saw things differently and maybe that wasn't bad.  My images still don't look like his, which is what makes us a great team.

I know this picture won't be published, praised or printed by art connoisseurs across the world, but this is an important photo to me.  I think it was the first time I had an eye that was worth using.

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