Nicole Barens

With a camera serving as a third eye and my only luggage, I take unplanned trips through familiar and often superficially unremarkable territory. I wander my neighborhood, the corners of my house, the park, an urban street. I allow my eyes to be called by the play of light, colors, textures, forms, and patterns that surround us. When I feel called by a subject, I do not think of a poppy as a poppy, a weed as a weed, sidewalk trash as sidewalk trash. Instead, I am faced with a puzzle of balancing color, light, and composition within a rectangle or square while asking myself again and again to be called, to remain curious, to allow my subject to speak its nonverbal demands. Shooting photos is an egoless endeavor! To discover and see with integrity I have to surrender. No preconception, no distraction, no withholding. The photo itself? A memento of seeing; a door opened onto a moment; a suggestion of a story; a play of light and form; a portrait; a very human theft.

While my subject matter is quite varied, many of my photos are up-close portraits of the often unseen or bypassed – the underside of a wilting rose, a sidewalk leaf print, a discarded clock, the crotch formed by two tree branches. I think I’m a traveler at heart, but because of certain challenges, I still haven’t been able travel as extensively as I’d like. Perhaps this is why I look for hidden worlds in my daily life. Through the lens of my camera, I make it a game to see the ordinary with fresh eyes, to play with perspective, to immerse myself in the moment.