Open Studio

Treasure Hunt: Photographing something specific

by , November 2015





Camera (digital or analog, cell phone, whatever), computer, phone or other means of showing your pictures to others (e.g. website or photo prints)

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When I’m out photographing, I feel like a hunter. I’m attentive to the environment around me with a focus that I rarely have in everyday life. But this focus is dependent on my subject. Just as a hunter needs to know if she’s looking for a specific type of prey, I like to look for a specific subject to photograph. My senses are overwhelmed if I’m shooting at anything and everything. But to make the process more challenging, I like to make a list of things to find. Even if I don’t find exactly what I’m looking for, it gets me out the door and moving around the world. The process is like a treasure hunt.

Here’s a list of ten things to look for (you can change the list if there are other things you’d rather look for).

  1. Airplanes
  2. Beetles
  3. Cashiers
  4. Dark corners
  5. Fungus
  6. Milk
  7. Sleeping children
  8. Tunnels
  9. Webs
  10. Yellow clothes

See how many items on your list you can photograph on a single outing. Extra points for combining subjects in one picture — I’d love to see a supermarket cashier in a yellow uniform selling milk!

Alec Soth

Photo: Carrie Thompson

Alec Soth

Born in 1969 in Minneapolis, Minnesota Currently lives in the Twin Cities, Minnesota Soth is a photographer and a member of Magnum Photos. His work is rooted in the distinctly American tradition of on-the-road photography developed by Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Stephen Shore. From Huckleberry Finn to Easy Rider, there seems to be a uniquely American desire to travel and chronicle the adventures that consequently ensue. His photographs have been featured in numerous solo and group shows, including the Whitney Biennial (2004) and São Paulo Biennial (2004). In 2008, a large survey exhibition of Soth's work was exhibited at Jeu de Paume in Paris and Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland. In 2010, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis mounted a comprehensive exhibition with an accompanying catalogue entitled From Here To There, Alec Soth's America. Soth's first monograph, Sleeping by the Mississippi, was published by Steidl in 2004. Since then he has published NIAGARA (2006), Fashion Magazine (2007), The Last Days of W (2008), and Broken Manual (2010). In 2008, Soth started his own publishing company, Little Brown Mushroom. In 2013 Soth was commissioned by SFMOMA to produce a series of photographs of Silicon Valley that were featured in Project Los Altos: SFMOMA in Silicon Valley, an exhibition presented at multiple locations throughout downtown Los Altos.
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