Telling Stories: Participation and Observation – Day 227

Artwork: Dusty Shoes by Alex Garland
Dusty Shoes by Alex Garland. Copyright © Alex Garland. Used with Permission.

We all have our unique ways of sharing our experiences with others, mostly through the stories we tell our family and friends. Those of us who are artists have a second language we also use for storytelling – a visual one. Sometimes we can share more with a single image than we could in an hour-long conversation. The creative process, however, can sometimes pull us out of the role of participant and place us in the role of observer.

Photographer Alex Garland carries his camera everywhere he goes and his portfolio contains visual stories from around the world. “I’m always on the lookout for those unexpected moments that speak to me,” he says. “If something I see causes an emotional response, if I’m moved by it or shaken by it, I’ll take a picture of it. I find beauty around every turn, whether it’s a forest of planted trees in Wales or a Sadhu in Nepal. I love capturing images and sharing them with others.”

Artwork: Namaste by Alex Garland
“Namaste” by Alex Garland. Copyright © Alex Garland. Used with Permission.

How does Garland handle that line between participation and observation?

“A good example is when Occupy Seattle got started,” he said. “I immediately went down with my camera for the sole purpose of documenting. While I was there, I realized that a lot of these people had the same grievances with the current state of the world as I did. I put down my camera and got involved, went to meetings, had my voice heard. After a certain point, I saw myself starting to miss things that were going on around me and I realized that I could contribute more by documenting, so I went back to the camera.”

Artwork: Corporate Groomsmen by Alex Garland
Corporate Groomsmen by Alex Garland. Copyright © Alex Garland. Used with Permission.

Recognizing that difference is how artists are able to share their inspiration visually.

“I would hope that my photography will do a few things,” says Garland. “It might stir up emotions inside the viewer, challenge their perception of reality, interact with someone new, consider alternate points of view, or open them up to new ideas and experiences.”

It is our job as artists to stir things up, challenge perceptions and offer new ideas and as long as we believe in the power of our work, our voices will definitely be heard.

SerenaK signature

Artwork: A Day in the Life by Alex Garland
“A Day in the Life” by Alex Garland. Copyright © Alex Garland. Used with Permission.

Artist Credits for the images included in this post:

Dusty Shoes
Alex Garland, Washington

Alex Garland, Washington

Corporate Groomsmen
Alex Garland, Washington

A Day in the Life
Alex Garland, Washington

Alex Garland’s work can be viewed at: Alex Garland Photography

The 365 Days Project

In 2012, Serena Kovalosky committed to writing an article a day for 365 days as an exploration into the lives of artists and the value of creative thinking in our society.

Experience the full evolution of the project! Click below to read the entire collection of articles.Click to view The 365 Days Project

Leave a Reply

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: