outside the music building photograph I think these photographs illustrate an interesting aspect of photography as a visual art. I had spent several hours taking pictures of the beautiful live oaks on the campus of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. I had gone to the Music Building to meet my daughter, and the ceiling of the foyer caught my eye. A few minutes later, the plaza outside did too. I have given this photograph and Inside the Music Building (go here) to the Music Department there. The faculty in that building is thinking about music most of the time. I am fairly confident that when they look at “Inside the Music Building” most of them will recognize it as a stylized piece of sheet music – horizontal lines, a vertical staff on the left, half notes, etc. When they look at “Outside the Music Building” they will see an eighth note. And then some of them will say, “Why didn’t I see that before?”

I believe photography’s ability to get people to ask that question makes it unique among the visual arts. They know that even a highly realistic painting may not show a scene as it really was. But with a photograph, even a black and white one, people believe they are looking at something that actually existed.

At least they used to. I have only one complaint about digital photography. People know that it is relatively easy to create a digital photograph that is substantially altered from what exists. Now, when looking at a photograph, people can no longer be sure that it is revealing to them something about the way the real world looks.

You have probably noticed that I use mundane titles for my photographs – just what the thing is and where it is. I avoid titles like “Sheet Music on the Ceiling” or “Black Ball of Fire”. The reason is that I like the title to emphasize that it is something they could have seen with their own eyes had they been there and paying attention.

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