Alley Culture

New Series: Alley Culture

What does this alley tell you about the culture surrounding it?

My house looks very neat and orderly–until you open a drawer.  Or a closet.  Or the closed door to my basement laundry room (now that is truly scary!)  Or until you peer under the sofa, the entertainment center, or the bathroom vanity.  The world is a lot like my house–pretty where it matters, and messy where it doesn’t.

I’m intrigued by the messy places of the world.  They say a lot about humanity.

These messy places tend to be in the cracks and on the edges–the borderland and in-between places that no one quite cares enough about.  The things you find in these places–the left-behind things, the often-hidden things–can tell you a lot about what is important (and what is not important) to a culture.

Thus, I’m starting a new blogging side project.  I’m going to start photographing alleys everywhere I go.  Yes, I said alleys.  Alleys are the perfect in-between places, where things–and sometimes people–that the world doesn’t want to display end up.

Sound weird?  It is.  But then I’m weird, so you really shouldn’t be surprised.

In this new series–which I plan to take cross-country this summer–I’ll feature occasional Alley Culture posts–a photo of an alley from around the country (or world, depending upon where I’m traveling) and discuss what that alley says about that particular micro-culture.  The goal is simple–learn about a place I’m visiting by looking at what that place throws away, hides, or disregards.  The rules are simple:

  • I shall define an alley as ‘any narrow passageway between or behind buildings; cars may or may not be permitted’.
  • Animals and people in shots are considered part of the ‘alley culture’ and will be discussed as well.
  • I will not search out ‘photogenic alleys’; I will simply point my camera down any and all alley-like passageways and see what I come up with.
  • I will not search out alleys that make a point I”m already trying to prove; the photo comes first.
  • I will occasionally edit my alley photos to make them prettier.  Because I like pretty photos.

That sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?  We shall see how it goes.  So stay tuned–my first Alley Culture post goes live on Monday!

Think my little experiment sounds interesting?  Have any ideas to add?  Would you like to give me some photography pointers on how to best shoot alleys?  Because I sure could use some!  Share with me in the comments section below!



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