The story behind the picture.

Illuminating insights that bring symbolism, meaning, and imagination to my abstract photography.

Scripps Pier Photo Shoot
Mesmerized by waves hitting the pillars of Scripps Pier, San Diego, California. Photo by Bill Marson. See the image from this day, “Breaking Patterns” in Seeking Simplicity – Black and White gallery for what I created on this day.

The blend between my name and “abstracts” occurred while collaborating with my best friend. As we discussed what I wanted to do with my photography, I realized my work wasn’t necessarily portraying reality on purpose. I think of my art as a way for the viewer to see the truth in their way, to learn about themselves, and to experience a moment of appreciation.

The definition of abstract art, at its simplest, is using forms, colors, and materials unusually to elicit thoughtfulness and feelings. Seeing the beauty that surrounds us, no matter how ordinary, helps us to practice living consciously. Slowing down, we feel grateful for what is. Counting our everyday blessings helps us offer others empathy and forgiveness, something we need more than ever in our world.

Grand Canyon Sunset
Sunset glow warms up the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona. Photo by Bill Marson. This is the moment that my “Shadow Traits” image was shot.

More importantly, we realize that life doesn’t have to be perfect for us to be happy. Bringing our full attention to this moment, appreciating what is, we live a more centered and balanced life. Speaking from experience, I had a big chunk of my adult life in which I was not living consciously. While it took some time and a whole lot of effort, I was able to cultivate more mindfulness. The result is that I feel much healthier, my relationships are stronger, my imagination is flowing, and I’m grateful for all that I have in my life.

Coaster Train Speeds into the Night
Waiting for the Surfliner commuter train to speed by with Torrey Pines and La Jolla in the background. San Diego, California. Photo by Bill Marson. See “Slow Down” in Meaningful Moments – Acceptance gallery for how I stopped the train in its tracks.

My photography journey isn’t about spending hours in a darkroom processing film back in my youth. Nor did I grow up listening secretly from the hallway while my parents had cocktails in the living room with Ansel Adams. I am new to photography, a relative baby in a competitive pool of amazing talent.

Photography wasn’t on my radar until about four years ago. Photography surfaced from a failure. I worked in technology sales “successfully” for 30 years, and after reporting to a cubicle for that long, I finally snapped. My soul needed out. Still, photography wasn’t in my plans.

Desert spring bloom
Down in the weeds, or flowers, of a spring desert bloom near Bartlett Lake, Arizona. Photo by Nathaniel Smalley. This was a risky shoot because the glowing teddy bear cholla cactus just past me in this photo was everywhere. They hold onto anything that moves, and their needles are not easy to remove. Calculated risks.

My plan was to travel to exotic locations and make a living as a travel writer. Everyone thought my plan sounded impressive and many wanted to join me. I quickly realized that I’d need photos to accompany the articles, though. Readers weren’t readers, after all, they had become skimmers, and they needed a shiny object to capture their attention. I bought a camera. Now the story really unfolds.

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Covering all the angles. Baltimore’s Graffiti Alley is a treasure trove of inspiration from other artists. Photo by Sandra Thompson-Raney. One of my favorite experiments is trying to make art from others’ art. If you take a look at “Optimistic,” in Dream Interpretations gallery, you’ll see what I mean.

I signed up for photography classes.I tried to write travel articles and take photos for magazines. Fast-forward, I didn’t get the spark out of trying to fit myself into the travel writer square either. At the time, I deemed this a failure on my part. I felt like I was lost, that I was never going to “find” my purpose in life.

Bosque del Apache Sunrise
Autumn reeds glow red in the rising sun at Bosque del Apache, New Mexico. Photo by Bill Marson.

What I discovered in the process, though, is that taking pictures and writing about the symbolism of what I experienced while capturing the image excited me. So while spending time and money in one direction felt like a big waste, now I see that it opened up a path that is more soul-satisfying. And each step in our journey is what brings life to living. Even the parts of life that are the most challenging. In fact, those difficulties may be our best lessons.

Dead Horse State Park overlook
Dangling at the edge of Dead Horse State Park near sunset, Utah. Photo by Bill Marson. Some shoots work out spectacularly. Other times, you learn that you didn’t have the conditions you needed. If you walk away without losing your tripod over the edge, you’ve done good. I’m kidding. Sort of. If you walk away with a memory, an impression, a respect for nature, for being alive, you don’t need any picture to substantiate that. No one can take that from you either.

As I’d write about my photos, I realized that I turned to psychology, wellness, and self-awareness as inspiration. While many people consume daily horoscopes, I read about Myers-Briggs personality types, communication, motivation, psychology, and Taoism as a staple. I found that understanding my motivations and emotions helped me to grow through awkward moments in life. Paying attention to the ordinary, I became aware of the genuinely extra-ordinary nature of our lives.

Black Sand Beach in Iceland
Getting cold feet in the ice cube chilled Black Sand Beach on the south coast of Iceland. Photo by Nathaniel Smalley. If only the waterproof boots truly lived up to their claim. They did not. At. All. It was cold, but magical.
Globe in hand in Cusco, Peru
Got the whole world in my hand outside my favorite restaurant in Cusco, Peru. Photo by Connie Simmons Owens. After eating dinner, Connie and I wandered around the courtyard to look at the art. A young boy and his sister were coming down the stairs and he dropped his ball. What fun to be traveling so far from home and feel like you’ve got the world in hand.

If you found a moment of calm in my art, you’ve tapped into your own strength. I am just a facilitator, and quite honestly, a benefactor of this practice for my own wellness. If a piece speaks to your heart, I hope you’ll enjoy it as your respite.

If I created an image or a sentence that captures your attention, we have established a connection. When I hear how someone experiences my photos and writings, I learn so much more. We each have a unique eye, a way of interpreting, and I find it enlightening when you share that with me. Thanks for going the distance in reading and for meeting the artist!

I wish you well-being and full attention to your everyday blessings.

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