The Doors

Wandering around aimlessly with a camera can be fun sometimes, but it’s probably not contributing much to your overall photographic education. Give yourself an assignment. For example, years ago I collected arrows. I made it a point to seek out arrows of any and every manifestation: painted on pavement, noisy neon, emblazoned on billboards; you name it. I kept the arrow images separate from my other stuff and collected nearly as many as did General Custer and the 7th Cavalry.

Recently I have been collecting doors. A creative writing professor I had in college, Howard McMillen, once told me that dreaming of doors meant longing to escape. He generally opposed literal symbolism, so his hypothesis surprised me. In my mind, doors lead IN, not OUT. However, I must admit that I do not wonder what’s behind the doors I photograph. Instead I am attracted to their strong rectangular lines that harmonize nicely with a 4:3 or 3:2 vertical digital composition.

The other reason I am collecting them: they are easy to find. Keep that in mind when you select a category of objects to collect. Don’t waste your time trying to accumulate photos of three-legged elephants, for example, or happy grocery store cashiers.

Accompanying image captured with Leica X Vario somewhere in New Jersey.

—Jon Sienkiewicz