Blog: Our Reality Show

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  • art in an instant

    Here is an interesting project that required all of my photography, editing and storytelling skills (limited though they may be), a little ingenuity, some painful choices, and — in the end — a great sigh of success.

    “art in an instant” features 228 Instagram images taken over the past 18 months, scaled down (which improves the resolution) and painstakingly assembled onto a 36x24 document using Pages software. I can scale down the image further (30x20, 24x16, 18x12) if necessary.

    As with every project, this one has a backstory, so let’s start at the beginning. Surprisingly, given that I’m a first-generation Apple geek, I didn’t get an iPhone until December 2012. So much for being an early adopter.

    The reasons, however, were practical. My then-employer assigned a phone/Blackberry to us, and said we could use it for personal as well as professional calls. What was the purpose of having two phones when I could use my employer’s for free?

    But almost two years ago, I finally broke down. The work phone was constantly dropping calls and given that I was often out of town with Ben, it made sense to get something that was more reliable and consistent. For me it was not a question; I was going Apple all the way.

    One of the best features on the iPhone, of course, is the camera, and I quickly fell in love despite its obvious limitations. (It’s called iPhone, not iCamera, after all.) Having the equivalent of a good point-and-shoot in my hand, along with a host of cheap apps, provided an interesting intellectual and compositional challenge that is outside the realm of most of the photography you see on this page and on my website.

    I quickly signed up for Instagram (@ourrealityshow), in part to follow my kids and in part to conduct a social media experiment. I wanted to see whether the audience would follow my work from platform to platform, and I regularly checked to see how they reacted to the various images I posted. Instagram also gave me a chance to play with filters, something I never really had done, and to look at life more from an artistic standpoint like my father did.

    Over time, however, I started to run out of storage on my phone, and finally had to do something about the 2,000+ photos I had on its hard drive. Time to dump them on to the computer and free up some space.

    After backing up the family photos and deleting the photos and videos that made no sense (sadly, there were quite a few of those), I still was left with more than 900 Instagram images. They also are not high-resolution; prints much larger than 5x5s would not be worth your time.

    The photos are truly random; things I see that catch my eye at unscheduled moments. Most are things I took, edited, posted, and never looked at again. At the same time, they provide you (and me) with a window into what I have found intriguing in my day-to-day travels. (Blue skies, sunsets, tunnels, and bare trees in winter seem to top the list.)

    I decided to assemble as many of the photos into one image to see what sort of story they would tell. And, after cutting them down, I see a story there. It’s of a photographer interested in making art of the ordinary, of a son who pays inadvertent tribute to his dad with almost every image, of a person who wants to entertain, challenge, and share what he sees with the world.

    It's what I see in an instant.