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! 🙂

14 replies »

  1. Fantastiska bilder, fantastisk utmaning och för mig, fantastisk inspiration. Har tänkt i liknande banor – varför bara filma och fota de gulliga uppvisningarna ens sötnosar ger? Jag vill ju minnas hur det var på riktigt, känna hur det var, försöka greppa “nuet som var” i framtiden. Har därför medvetet och inte för att tillintetgöra eller håna mina barn faktiskt filmat utbrott och fotat sura miner. Det brukar dessutm ge barnen lite distans, oftast börjar de skratta…

    Har tittat på många av dina foton med stor behållning, tack för att du delar med dig av dem!

  2. Many years back I visited Venice, Italy. A very fascinating city, and a good example of beauty and ugliness existing side by side.

    I’d love to go back there someday, and bring the camera 🙂

    Have a good weekend

  3. Louis,
    You are so right…”ugly” stuff, you don’t have to look for it…badly enough!
    But i’ts part of the world…think about that : if there weren’t ugly things, we would’nt apreciate the beautiful things in life…
    Have a nice week-end!

  4. I´m amazed! Som jag skrev i det där blogginlägget om Den nya förebilden som du även kommenterade så lyckas du varenda gång att
    fånga det vackra i nått som man annars ser som fult och enkelt.

    Och jag beundrar dig verkligen för det.

    Jag blir helt rörd !
    You really are one of a kind Louis!

    Linda (also known as Bam Bam)

  5. Sorry Louis, du misslyckades kapitalt. Till och med av det fula blev det vackra bilder. [Låtsas nu som om jag inte förstod att det var hela meningen med “eye of the beholder” osv] Men du inspirerade! Nu ska jag gå på fuljakt!

  6. Thank you for sharing. Point well made. Each picture has a story to tell. I have a 20 year old daughter with Autism. She loves to take pictures and write poems. Noelle’s pictures are always “Random” (that’s what she calls them), (Sometimes I wonder if Emily Dickensen was not Autistic as well. Her poems are incrediable.)
    My daughter, Noelle, writes her poems under the title “Rewind”. I hope one day she will feel comfortable enough to share what she writes. Again thank you for sharing your thoughts and bringing a new perspective into our thought pattern. Love your site.

  7. Hi Louis!!

    I must say your last few articles have been awesome. You are good at getting thoughts going for others. So thanks for that!! I love to be challenged in my thinking. Let me share with you a thing that happened in our little family about making choices like what Elder Hales talked about in the last General Conference.

    We have a teenage daughter that is almost 16 and so ready to date. Needless to say we as parents are not ready to let her go but we know that it is the way life has to happened. Well in our ward we have one of the 12 and it is Elder Russel M. Nelson. He knows our family a little and of course the kids the most.

    I was talking to our 15 year old daughter about “hanging out with guys”. Most of her friends do it even before they are 16 and she thinks it is not dating. Well we as parents thinks it is just like group dating and want her to not do it. So I ask her if we should ask Elder Nelson what he thinks of it. She agreed and said that she would follow what he thought was right. She really is a great girl :o).

    A few weeks later he was at our meetings and I went to talk to him. I tell him our concern and question about hanging out . He is silent for a minute and as I am waiting for his answer I know that he is going to give me good counsel. He looks at me and says, “a mothers intuition is great , follow this and stay strong”. Well he did not give me what I thought he would “a NO you should not hang out before you are 16 and then even after that no single dating till you are 18 answer”. But he did give me what we needed.

    Like you said in your article on control we need to choose how willing we are to listen to the word of the Lord and then follow. A few weeks ago Elder Bednar talked to the students at BYU Idaho about living in the real world and not in cyberspace and it was an awesome talk. It made me change a few things and I have already seen a huge difference in my life.

    What a wonderful thing we have that the Lord speaks to us today and all we have to do is listen and follow and we can be happy. I am not saying we will not be challenged with trails, we need those to grow. But we can choose to have peace and feel the love of our Savior daily in our hearts.

    Sorry for the long comment. I had a few things in my heart this morning! Thanks Louis for being a great writer and a wonderful photographer. Keep up this awesome blog. I am sure it makes a lot of people think a little deeper :o)

    Have a wonderful weekend with you sweet family I know I will with mine!
    Thanks again,
    Ann Holbrook

  8. Interesting pictures:-)
    The fairytale The Uckling Duckling by H.C. Andersen came to my mind… Something ugly will turn into something beautiful… And the beauty will conquer the ugly at last… Some day the little pond will win and be a beautiful lake;-) And the tree will “eat” up that ugly fence and the tree will grow it´s bark again, when the cat stops scratching the tree:-) Like the little duckling that turned into a beautiful swan:-) My favorite fairytale! And the swan is my favorite bird and to my luck the danish National Bird:-)
    Have a nice weekend:-)

  9. Hej Louis!

    Verkligen annorlunda bilder du visar i dag, trots sin “fulhet” så var det kul att se dem i alla fall.
    Du är verkligen en väldigt duktig fotograf, jag tycker det är lika spännande att se dina bilder varje gång du lägger upp nya.
    Fotograferar mycket själv och har just förlorat 1400 digitala bilder som jag hade i min dator men som jag inte hade back up på….
    Man lär sig något nytt varje dag!
    Önskar dig och din familj en skön och fridfull sommar med många foton som ljusa minnen sen när höst mörkret kommer 🙂

    Hälsningar med inkilad kram!

  10. Hej! Skojiga bilder eller ja hur man nu ska se på det, hihi. En liten fråga…va har du för kamera? Jag ska köpa en ny till mig själv i födelsedagspresent 😉
    Kul att få läsa din blogg!
    Mvh Sandra Gustafsson, Hällefors

    • Hej Sandra, jag använder en Canon 30d. Men den börjar bli lite gammal nu. Det finns två uppföljare till den redan: 40d och 50d.
      Det finns dock andra kameror som är riktigt bra. Gå till en kamerabutik och känn lite på vad som finns, och ställ en massa frågor. 🙂
      Lycka till!

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