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Downtown Lens: One Man's Trash

By Dave Bullock
Published: Sunday, August 03, 2008, at 06:18PM

Downtown Los Angeles has no shortage of trash. We commonly see it piled high on street corners and in front of businesses as the day ends. These piles exist for a number of reasons, many of them not quite proper -- illegal dumping was a topic at City Hall this week.

Normally when I see a pile of boxes and shipping material I don't think too much of it. Sometimes I see a pile of trash that actually looks cool. This isn't the trash you see in the Fashion or Toy districts. I'm talking about interesting trash.

I suppose that's just my opinion that the trash in the photograph is cool. You may find beauty in the cardboard boxes piled high on a deserted street.

The point, though, is that everyone has their own definition of cool, interesting or beautiful. I love industrial decay and find it inspirational. I also love finding people's hidden trash treasure collections like this pile of toys and booze bottles.

The scene makes me wonder why the person who stockpiled these toys wanted them. Why did he or she put them in this stack behind a concrete retaining wall? Why did they keep the booze bottles? Is it supposed to mean something? Does it matter?

I can't answer these questions, but I can say that finding interest and beauty in things that aren't typically thought of in that light is a healthy and fun mental exercise.

So here is your assignment for the coming week:

Take your camera, go walk around Downtown and photograph something someone discarded. Find a cool angle, try and tell a story, but make the subject of that story physical items that some random person cast away.

The most important part though, is have fun and keep shooting!

This post is the second installment from a weekly series entitled Downtown Lens in which I will discuss a photograph and the technique that relates to it.


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