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Matinee: Chris Orwig's 'Finding the Magnificent in the Mundane' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

31 May 2014

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the thirty-fifth in our series of Saturday matinees today: Chris Orwig's Finding the Magnificent in the Mundane.

This nearly 20-minute presentation, tightly integrated with Orwig's images, was presented at TEDxAmericanRiviera. The "x" in TEDx indicates an independently organized, local event in the spirit of TED's ideas worth spreading. Orwig has a few.

It's been a dispiriting few days, generally speaking.

The normally upbeat Mike Johnston at The Online Photographer has published three long pieces this week on the state of photography today. It's a great time for snapshots and sharing and gear, oh my, but there's very little hope that good work will be rewarded -- or even noticed. Sadly, he reports, that view was confirmed by a number of readers of the second piece who responded privately to him, detailing their own woes.

Same story at Medium where Erin Biba observes that being paid 2.5 cents per click for a story these days doesn't quite reflect her "$60,000 graduate journalism degree from Medill, nearly a decade of writing experience, and, let's be honest, I'm super smart and seriously good at what I do." The new media game is rigged.

So we thought we'd trot out Orwig.

He's a Santa Barbara photographer, author and instructor (Brooks Institute, who tells an inspiring story in Finding the Magnificent in the Mundane.

It all starts with a horrific skateboarding accident that left him wheelchair-bound. He was, he said, "completely broken."

And it all changed when his father gave him a camera.

The camera became a passport to explore the world, distracting his attention from his own problems and the things he couldn't do. He learns to look and begins to see all sorts of, well, magnificent things among the mundane.

His images beautifully illustrate what becomes a quite poetic homage to the art of photography. Not the snapshooting, sharing and gear but the work that is its own reward.

The captures he celebrates are not impeccable images of flawless objects, though. No, no, no. They are testaments to his love of imperfection. Of flaws. Of someone not smiling in the shot when he doesn't tell them to say "cheese."

You see it at work, for example, in the portrait of his daughter, taken when she was sick. Her guard was down. If she was well, he speculates, she would probably have stuck out her tongue at him.

Before he's done he talks about dreaming in daylight and not worrying about formal qualities before quoting Miss Piggy, Edgar Alan Poe, Leonard Cohen and Dylan Thomas.

It's an inspirational talk, let's put it that way. And who couldn't use a little of that these days?

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