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August 27, 2013, by Ed Melvin

Seeing: The Ottoman Waits

otto1I began to photograph things while I was still in elementary school.  I do not remember the first type of camera nor why my family agreed it was a good idea.  As I read about photography, I found that the recommendations were same as art teachers would say.  “draw what you see’.  So I began to ‘photograph what I saw’.  So to this day I ask myself ‘what do I see?’

As I began to read about and see the work of famous photographers, I found the work of Ansel Adams and Alfred Stieglitz most intriguing.  Their photographs were not just a documentation of place or people, but left open questions.  What happens in this place?  What makes this person cry?  How did he find this street so beautiful?

I stopped taking my camera to family events when everyone wanted me to be in charge of photographing the event and I would end up with pictures of interesting shoes and grandpa’s face as he slept in his chair after eating.  I was also a complete failure as school photographer.  I was never able to utilize the camera to ‘document’, but forever remained the wondering child investigating the world with great sense of newness.

Through these many years of looking through a lens, I have been learning to see an instance of light and shape, pattern and color.  What photographs cannot share are fragrances, the feeling of breeze and temperature, nor the question I am asking in each moment.

otto2Seeing with a camera to realistically document what exists as well as a personal interpretation of the wonder and awe in a small moment of time and light offers us a way to print our fleeting imaginations.

The ottoman always seems to be waiting in the corner space, with its fabric aging in the sun like the grandmother tending her flower garden for decades, just to see the small yellow butterflies visit.  The ottoman waits for someone to know its supporting comfort.

The Camera allows me to see the world.  Designing is the reverse of photography, where I ‘see’ within to create places for people to work, play and learn.  Still a child, I now design spaces in hopes to empower children, teachers and communities to be simple and extraordinary people.