Is it because I’m short that I so habitually take upward-looking photos? I’ve blogged previously about my penchant for looking up: is this a psychological trait or merely a photographic quirk? True, I like the look of sky and love the jutting angles of overlapping eaves…but why don’t I photograph more full facades or even (dare I suggest it) entire buildings? Why the bits, pieces, and random corners; why, given the prospect of brilliant orange flowers against a striking architectural facade, do I almost inevitably shoot the picture from ground level looking up rather than from a “normal” horizontal perspective?
Last year when I met Fred First, he called me on my affinity for odd angles. We were walking toward the North Bridge in Concord, MA, and I stopped to take this picture of a sign hawking the site’s cell phone audio tour. As I started to shoot the image from my usual perspective–askance–Fred winced. “No, shoot it straight on,” he insisted, it being obvious that the thought of a crooked camera angle was as appealing to him as the sound of nails on a chalkboard. I remember laughing and complying…after, of course, I took at least one off-kilter shot. Of the pictures I took, of course the straight-on shot looked the best, but you’ll never hear me telling Fred that.
Perhaps it’s telling that two of my all-time favorite Emily Dickinson poems contain the word “slant”; could it be I simply have an affinity for the Odd? Yes, Fred, signs should be shot straight-on…but to my eye, buildings still look best when shot askance, their lines and angles accentuated. Is it a fitting irony that when I Googled those two Emily Dickinson poems, I discovered that today is the birthday of Frank Lloyd Wright, the undisputed king of architectural angle? I doubt that even a straight-shooter like Fred First could find a way of photographing Fallingwater straight-on; somehow, Wright’s iconic buildings simply beg to be viewed askew. There is in Manchester, NH a house that Wright designed, and inexplicably I’ve never seen much less toured it. Given the way I inevitably photograph even the most straight-up-and-down edifice, though, surely you can imagine how I’d see and shoot angularity.