Fresh Eyes: My relationship with photography

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~1428452173~Astran headshotby Zack Astran

What do you see when you look at photographs?

Maybe Grandpa sitting on the rotted, wooden swing on the front porch, smoking his favorite Cuban cigar.

Maybe an old dog that lays with his tongue on the hot, summer pavement, craving cool water inside the house.

Maybe a beautiful landscape picture of the vibrant Arizona sunset.

Who knows?

There is no true definition to photography because it means different things to different people.

That is the beauty of capturing images.

When I think of photography, I think of a journey. A journey not just through pictures, but through life.

A journey that gives me the opportunity to explore places I never thought existed.

A couple months back I wandered through the streets of downtown High Point. I walked for what seemed like six days, camera steady on my shoulder, searching for the perfect place to take a picture of  public art.

Just as I was about to give up, I stumbled upon a streetcorner with a mural painted on a white wall. Behind the cinderblock wall was a small, red, wooden shed with another mural.

It reads, “Artist: Someone who sees something, not only as it is… but for what it could be….”

This was my spot, next door to the 512 Collective on Washington Street. I removed my camera from my tired shoulder and had my friend stand to the left of the quote.

Click.

Three hundred miles from my home near Washington DC and countless rolls of film later, I had found my perfect shot when I least expected it.

Photography is also journey that gives me the opportunity to express my voice behind a lens.

A camera and a lens are tools not just for photography, but also life. It’s the camera and lens that captures the images, but it is nothing more than an extension of my eye.

When a finished photograph is developed and printed, it is an interpretation of my mind. My eye. My thoughts.

As I stood in front of a simple, yet riveting, mural, I thought to myself: “What kind of impact could this shot have?”

Maybe you see an intricate design layout in the background and a nice quote that seems to please you or make you think.

Maybe you see the surrounding trees that blow in the wind behind the shed.

But, what I see is a connection to art. An opportunity for something to develop. A fresh way of looking at life, with art as its canvas.

It’s an image that represents a different way of looking through the lens.

It’s an image that has potential to make a difference and to bring people behind my lens to see what I see.

Photography has taught me more than how to pick up a camera, zoom in on a subject matter, and snap the trigger.

It’s taught me to think outside the box, be patient, and disciplined.

The images I’m taking have potential to change the world.

My father once told me as we moved furniture from one end of the room to the other, “Zachary, skin grows back; wood doesn’t.”

You may wonder what any of that has to do with photography. It’s the connection between two opposing subjects matters.

People change. Lives change. The world changes. Even furniture changes.

But, photographs do not.

Zack Astran is a junior at High Point University and Triad City Beat’s investigative intern.

  • Nick Martin

    Great read! It’s awesome to see others shooting film around High Point. I’ll be trying out some street photography during furniture market starting Friday night (6pm) at penny path. Come join in! Look for 2 guys carrying old Leicas.

  • Joan Scott

    I love your connection to the photo – for me photography is a greeting, a recognition of someone or something. A way of saying hello. Sometimes a spiritual experience. Keep taking pictures Zach!