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Seeing Suffolk from a different perspective

Published 6:29pm Saturday, January 12, 2013

One of the invaluable things journalists must learn in order to do their jobs well is the power of observation. We are paid to notice things — especially things that are unusual — and then tell the community about them. Some journalists are naturally good at being observant. Others learn the skill through years of practice.

It’s easy to establish routines that diminish the skill of observation, though. Drive to work via the same route each day, for example, and pretty soon you’ll find that the 25 minutes from door to door is just a blur. Sometimes you have to shake up the routine to notice something new.

That’s what I experienced in November as I participated in the Suffolk PhotoWalk. Presented as a ministry of Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church, PhotoWalk is designed to give photographers of all skill levels a push out of their routines. With three different walking routes through and around downtown Suffolk, the morning offered a great chance to see part of the city at a speed and from a vantage point that we don’t experience as we drive to and from our homes, offices and errands.

A bonus is the opportunity to have the best of those photographs on display at the Suffolk Art Gallery. I can’t speak for the other 18 or so photographers whose work now appears in the gallery’s Winterim exhibition, but I can say categorically that I never expected to have any of my photos hang in an art gallery. I’m pretty much a hack with a camera, and whenever I get something good, it’s usually a result of dumb luck or the fact that my wife told me to shoot it.

At least one of the photos hanging in the Suffolk Art Gallery today is a result of me doing what my wife told me to do. She sees things differently than I do (don’t I know it!), and I always appreciate having her along on photo expeditions. I’ve told her I’ll be happy to sell her that photo, which she loves. She suggested we might come to an arrangement. Somehow, I think I’ll be the one who ends up paying.

Congratulations to the PhotoWalk winners. Your shots put me to shame. I hope you enjoyed the chance to see downtown Suffolk from a new perspective as much as I did.

The Winterim exhibition is on display through Jan. 26 at the gallery, located at 118 Bosley Ave. The gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.

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