Oregon Coast, 2017
There is a charming story behind the Beatles song “Octopus’s Garden”. Apparently Ringo Starr got the idea for the lyrics when the captain of a boat told him that octopuses collect shiny rocks and shells and create gardens under the sea. I like to imagine that the ocean is full of elaborate ornamental gardens, complete with topiary and sculptures, and inhabited by happy fish taking in the sights after swimming a long way for the visit.
Photographers operate similarly, collecting shiny moments and building little gardens out of them that we call portfolios. These too are under a sea of sorts, visible only to those who dive into the depths of the internet, or into an artist monograph, or perhaps into a retrospective exhibition in a gallery or museum. To see the whole ‘garden’ that a photographer has created is to experience that artist’s way of seeing the world to some extent. What results from such viewing is a very special key that unlocks the gates to other gardens, that makes all photographs more exciting and poignant as connections, inspiration, references, and visual dialogues become apparent.
So go swimming! If you like a photograph, go visit the website of that photographer. Immerse yourself in photography books and exhibitions when possible. Find and enjoy the gardens from which great photos grow. There is a lot more to photography than its greatest hits.