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A change in the way I see photos (and should I worry about it? Let me know)

That, is a lengthy (probably also clickbait-y) title for a rather vague post, but I’m grateful that you’re here anyway. So yeah, let me introduce you to my newest life dilemma.

I noticed this when casually looking through my recent photo stream (by recent, I mean ‘last year’). I probably took more photos in the first half of 2018 than I did my entire life, and among those God-knows-how-many photos, normally, some tend to stand out and capture more attention.

Being educated in architecture, I was used to photos that look like this one below: clean and sleek with perfect angle/viewpoint, showing the designed beauty as pure as it can be (which usually is monochromatic and/or homogeneous in principle), making the architecture the subject.

Interior of Villa Savoye (1931), Poissy, France. Architect: Le Corbusier

It is a common silent agreement that people’s presence in the photos could distract the viewers from what they are supposed to see. In some cases, people are even deliberately being left-out of the photo (when it’s not technically possible, Photoshop can still do the magic).

Villa Savoye’s terrace, with a view to the sitting room.
In an idyllic manner of architectural photography, I probably should’ve waited for the three people in the above photo to get bored and go away from my frame. .

This kind of aesthetic, or hashtag #minimal, almost became a norm to me (the cleaner, the better) and I also tried to capture it as many as I could. Unfortunately, I was (and am) not a very good photographer and lots of blunder happens in my attempt.

Front door of a building in Dresden, Germany. I only had one type of camera lens (Canon EF-S 18-55mm standard kit lens), which capture bulky images when doing close-ups.

 Fürstenzug (English: Procession of Princes), the iconic mural in Dresden Old Town. I had neither the luxury of perspective-control lens nor drones, so the photo appears in a worm-eye view rather than natural street-level that architects absolutely LOVE.

Aaanyway, back to me scrolling my photo stream. This time, different kind of photos look more appealing to my eyes. No, not the clean, #minimal compositions. In fact, these photos contain the last thing I would consider a useful, let alone interesting photo element in the first place: people.

Staffs chatting in Lido Alus sēta, a restaurant in Riga, Latvia
A pair enjoying the sunset in Copenhagen, Denmark
Double censorship (the girl’s cigarette, and Gal Gadot’s bust), Copenhagen
Chinese tourists (they speak Mandarin) waiting to cross the road in Bratislava, Slovakia
And my personal favorite, a couple sitting under the sunlight in Dresden, Germany

I don’t know what exactly is so bewitching about the photos: the way they seem to capture a part of a human story, the way they breathe fresh air to the otherwise dead space, or the unrepeatable moments enabled by a lucky press on my camera’s shutter button, just before they disappeared. (When taking a picture of a building, you can always repeat them, but unlike buildings, people move. Well, buildings can move, too, but probably not that frequent.)

Okay, maybe it’s also about the image composition. But somehow even a faulty (out of focus) photo, with a human in it, still radiate some sort of, …, soul?

In the streets of Riga, Latvia. Where is the guy going? What is his tale?

After a look into these photos, I was suddenly immersed into a sense of guilt. The guilt that I’m not so interested into architecture as the subject anymore. The guilt, triggered by the realization that now I put architecture as an equal part, among many other parts, of a bigger picture: when humans and roads and buildings and weather and relationships interact with each other in a non-isolated manner.

The guilt, that after 4.5 years of literal tears during architecture design studios and countless sleepless nights in 24-hours cafes, I (probably) am interested in something else, (probably) something under the broad, broad term of urban studies (albeit not entirely out of topic).

Some questions immediately follow afterwards. Is it okay? Is it normal? Have I been wasting my time, also my architect-hopeful future? Is it too late to start anew when my friends are on their way to become renowned architects? Will it take me longer to settle down when I’m not an architect? Do I want to settle down? What will other people think of me? Does it even matter (what people think of) when I do what I like?

Yeah. Sorry. No one has told you this post is going to a full-blown rant on my life choices. But I think I owe it to the title.

“Maybe you’re overanalyzing photos, or just bored.”

Actually, maybe I’m overanalyzing photos or just bored.

Or maybe I’m not, and changing minds is okay too.


P.S. I hope you can read beyond the lines..

P.P.S. A disclaimer, just in case someone thinks I’m oversimplifying decisions over photos: “photos” here is just a chosen metaphor to represent many, many considerations. 😉

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