My sophomore year at OU I took my CA 117/118 courses to fulfill a fine arts requirement. The professor wore a bow tie and opened the quarter with the classic “what is art?” discussion. It was so cliche that I thought for a minute I was in the middle of an episode of Growing Pains and Jason Seaver would be barging in to demand why Kirk Cameron’s grades were so low. Between the 2 courses we covered all the major genres (segments?) of the arts – film, literature, dance… art (well, what DO you call the paintings and sculptures section?).

By far the most challenging for me was architecture. It was the only area in which we had to decipher between form and function. The others were obvious: dance & art are done for the beauty, to evoke emotion. Film and literature tell a story. To me, a bridge or a building are just that – a bridge or building. Who really cares about the Gothic columns or the little semi-circles under a bridge?

This, my friends, is why no one ooohs and aaaahhs over my house. Why spend $50 on a sink faucet when you can spend $13.30? Both will disperse water. Why buy the deep mahogany ceiling fan when you can get white at half price? Both will make me cooler. And don’t even get me started on curtain rods.

So my house, along with many other areas of my life, looks like it comes straight from the “put this in your college rental” aisle at Lowe’s. No real fear that it might break because it didn’t cost that much to begin with. And I’m not going to lie. I wish it wasn’t so.

More recently I’ve noticed a similar discrepancy in my photography life. When I graduated from seminary, my wonderful husband (in conjunction with my parents and in-laws) bought me a beautiful, powerful, does-more-things-than-I-can-imagine/have-to-read-the-manual-to-turn-it-on camera. It takes amazing photographs. And I shoot in auto. AUTO.

Now, I understand that it’s acceptable at times – you just want to capture the moment. But why not capture the moment with beauty? Why not use things like lighting to emphasize that which I feel at the moment? Every once in a while AUTO might be able to tell the story, but a good photographer – like a good writer – bends the light to give you a picture that shares more than facts; it tells a story. It evokes emotion. It propels you to want to take action (even if it is just to cry or to order a print from shutterfly and frame it).

So, much like buying brushed silver towel racks, I must begin to let beauty permeate through my picture taking and not just get down the facts. I was quite inspired by a few photography-loving friends this weekend (who show the utmost patience with me asking the same questions OVER and OVER), so now it’s back to #1 – follow through. I hope to tell you a good story here in the future by using a lot less words.

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