A Shot in the Head and Two in the Heart

True story:

The other day I was walking around the frame section over at Michael’s, the arts and crafts store, when I saw a woman holding up one of those big paper targets people use for practice at the shooting range.

She was trying to see if it fit in a 24×36 frame.


It had a hand-drawn picture of a guy holding a gun, and there were exactly three frayed holes where the bullets had struck: One was in the right eye. The other two were right through the heart…

Gotta wonder about the rest of her decor.

But it made me think about the fact you don’t have to go very far to see a lot of strange stuff in the world. In fact, take a quick glance through your Facebook feed, and it’s hard not to think we’re basically a bunch of nutballs.

And as photographers, that’s everything.

It’s tempting to chase the shot, trying to get that exotic look with that exotic tone in exotic lands. I’ve seen so many photographers scour the ends of the Earth who won’t spend a second looking around where they are, just to bring back nothing more than postcard pictures.

Not that there’s anything wrong with travel, but near or far, it’s still the simple curiosities that rule the day.

Curiosity, as in seeing what’s around us, open and fresh. Curiosity as in the strange and wonderful collisions that are everyday existence.

The first photography exercise I ever got was finding a picture within ten feet of wherever you were. At first, it seemed pointless, but the more I tried, the more I realized that a picture isn’t what’s outside of you. It’s your appreciation for what’s outside of you.

You just have to be open to unexpected possibilities.

The thing is, every far off world is someone else’s backyard. And if their backyard is good enough to give you what you need, your backyard is, too.

—Spencer Lum

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