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Repetition And Cycle
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During my trip to Denver last year, my brother and I spent half a day wandering around downtown. Jeff had made this journey many times but this was my first opportunity to spend some time in the central part of the city. Roughly 50 feet from where we parked, I noticed a tidy line of red bicycles. They were individually secured to a standard bike rack and appeared to be rental vehicles for tourists and natives alike. The “57 Chevy” red caught my eye and as I approached the line, I noticed the wording on the side. I set out that afternoon to capture images that somehow portrayed the city of Denver and 60 seconds into the journey, I was already shooting one.
As I approached the bikes, I positioned myself to the left side of the row. Standing there silently, I made a few quick adjustments to my settings, crouched as low as I could and tried to find an angle that showed the best depth of field. As I looked down the row of bright red “Denvers,” I instantly appreciated the repetition within the image. Each bike seemed identical to next even though each had its own unique story to tell. They had all had different riders who had taken them to different locations. Their experiences were varied yet their appearances were the same.
I saw the pattern in the imagery and felt a need to capture it. This is the kind of photo that is often seen in advertisements, photographer portfolios, marketing materials or even department store furnishings. It is common and non-remarkable. I wasn’t inventing a new photographic method or even improving upon an existing one, but my photo is different…… because this one is mine.
I started BallMultimedia.com to serve as a creative outlet for two of the things that I love to do; write and take photographs. The true intent was to display my work as I continued to learn about photography and ultimately develop a distinctive style. That process continues, and while I don’t generate new content as much as I would like to, the creative process never stops. I’m slowly starting to see the world through a lens rather than through my own eyes. I see something and instinctively think, “That would make an interesting photograph” or “That’s a nice composition.” This is an ability that many photographers will claim to have always had, but for me, it’s taken some time to develop.
One of the things I always find myself looking for is repetition and patterns. Whether it appears in nature or it is artificially staged, my eye always seems drawn to the inherent continuity and cohesiveness of repetition. As a photographer, I look for these things in order to shoot them, but as a human being, I instinctively find comfort in patterns. We pride ourselves in routine and ritual and celebrate them accordingly. We strive to know what to expect tomorrow based on our experiences today. Repetition becomes comfortable and pleasing, both emotionally and aesthetically. It is readily understood and universally accepted. Systematic repetition helps us build towers in the sky and allows us to utilize complex mathematics. It gives us the gift of language and takes away our fear of the unknown. It provides a sense of balance and replenishes our daily needs. It is the basic principle needed in order to build, in order to grow.
The bicycles in this photograph are just that, a line of bicycles on a random city street. However, they are worthless without the repeated peddling needed to drive their wheels forward. In some ways, we are the bicycles; individual machines with unique stories yet similar appearances; in need of repetition in order to provide worth; beautiful and proud. Repetition is not a quirky set of coincidence nor is it a convenient series of truths; rather it is a necessary part of the human experience.
May 24th, 2012
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