A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I was an architect–not a marine biologist. Even further from that point, I was in school to become an architect. My parents figured architecture would be a great major for me because I loved to draft in high school. What my parents didn’t realize, and what most people don’t realize, is that architecture has a closer relationship to fine art painting than it does to engineering or technical drawing. In fact the technical drawings or “blueprints” that most know about, are really the final process of what an architect does. This is where the problem for my parents’ dream of having a son who was an architect ended. The point at which I began studying architecture is the point at which I began to open my mind creatively. I was set to become an artist. Yep, said it, the beret, facial hair, and attitude of an artist. Kind of.
The major focus for an architect is design, to create a space for a human to utilize in some way, shape or form. Think of a painter who is a sculptor too, architecture is just that, creating in a three dimensional world as well as the two dimensional world of a painter. The final building is the sculpture and the drawings are helping your army make that vision a reality. Within the art form of architecture there are as many different styles of creating as there are within the world of painting. There are those who utilize the classical (I have no idea why), those blend the classical with the contemporary, and those who disregard the classical to design the modern. In fact, if you study art and architecture history side by side (something you are required to do for an architecture degree) you quickly see a correlation between what artists were painting and what architects were designing.
I was a modernist. In fact, the style of architecture that I absolutely loved was called Deconstructivism. It was the anarchist of architecture at the time. It scoffed at the general rules that were put in place by the architects who came before. Have you ever heard someone say, “form follows function.” Deconstructivists said screw these types of rules, they wanted to create drama through a sort of controlled chaos. The mission was to make a structure look like it was, for lack of a better word–unstructured. Very similar to what Picasso would paint when he went full tilt into cubism. In other words for a young punk rebellious kid, it was exactly what the doctor ordered. “What are you rebelling against? What ya got.”
There were two guys in my class that were amazing at designing in this style. I only remember their first names at this point–Dan and Mark. Dan was older than most in my class at about 30, Mark was even older at 40. Both of them lived their lives just like they designed–contemporary, well dressed, well read, well spoken, and I hated them as much as I loved them. I wanted to create like they did. Their presentations looked like original Picassos, and their models were built out of steel, aluminum, rusted metal and plexiglass. They could create the coolest looking projects I had ever seen and then defend them until there was no other choice but to give them the “A”. They had all the reasons because their projects grew out of a well thought out theory of why. There wasn’t a misplaced or misthought beam anywhere. You loved their work even if you hated their style. When they presented, the rooms were always full. These guys taught the professors. They created a following throughout the architecture department, and taught me how to create like them. I sought their advice often, listened and remembered anything and everything they told me.
It wasn’t long before their inspiration and instruction grew into my own way of thinking. Good, bad or indifferent, I became knowledgable and opinionated. I became the beret wearing attitude without the beret. There you go, I said it again. This meant though that creativity at some point was going to become the driver in this testosterone love triangle and it wouldn’t be long before the new hot chick of photography would grasp me in her clutches and allow me even more free love than I had in school. The mission began as some free love in the woods near my home in Colorado and then grew into completely new way of life. Even to this day though, I have never forgotten my roots and apply all of what I learned in college to my everyday photography life.
Now, knowing all this why would I change direction, throw away a life of architecture for a life of photography? Well, I think a place like Zion speaks volumes to the reason. I have morphed my vision of the world from architecture, now to photography. What I loved about architecture is quickly finding its way into my photography no matter where I travel. Zion is a perfect place to let the deconstructivism dog out to stretch its legs. To go against those perfect landscapes that many nature photographers pursue there. This was a time to play with my viewers emotions, to utilize shade and shadow, reflection, color, texture, direction, and design concepts to highlight what Zion can be about, but very few seek out there. This place strong holds a mecca of compositions. A place where I could spend the rest of my life exploring. Of discovering and rediscovering. A life of working on a vision with reason. Go ahead and ask me why, to any of it, I dare you.