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Finding and Making Magical Places

October 25, 2011

fter working with Sam on two photography

projects a week for the past three months, I’ve been continuously amazed at how she can make something as bland as a driveway or bathroom mirror look utterly magical in her pictures. They don’t necessarily look perfect or even clean, but something about them pulls you in to their story. It got me thinking about magical places and what makes an ordinary place seem extraordinary.

We all dream of magical places: Narnia, Hogwarts, the Shire, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. But I believe they can also appear here on Earth. Some places or things have the right mix of beauty and homeliness, practicality and impracticality to warm up our imaginations.

When they were still alive, my grandparents used to have a big house filled all kinds of interesting stuff: big seashells, antique cameras, fancy china, photographs, an exercise bike, thousands of books and CDs, toys, sheet music, framed paintings, and tons of other things I can’t quite remember. As a kid, I used to wander the rooms picking up and playing with everything, regardless of fragility or value. That’s one key to magical places I think. You can’t be afraid to pick up and use the beautiful things that you have, because you won’t get attached to a teacup unless you drink tea from it.

This weekend, Sam and I spent a couple hours creating a magical place in her living room. We hung sheets and tapestries from her ceiling to make a tent that draped over her couch and then we filled it with colored lights and interesting things we found around her apartment. After the photo shoot, we spent a good hour just sitting in the tent and enjoying how cool it was.  

Though it took us all afternoon, it made me realize how easy it is to improve my quality of  life with just a few well-thought-out decorations, a cozy seating arrangement, and some nice lighting. They seem like insignificant things, but they can change the mood of just being someplace to really being someplace.

Sometimes, of course, your life simply isn’t magical. You have to wait in line at the bank and drive to the grocery store and vacuum the living room. Which is why you should try your best to carry a bit of magic with you in a teacup or flower or brightly colored stockings with lace. Then when everything seems too dreary and dull, squint one eye and turn your vision into the lens of a camera. Focus on something: a rain drop or a beetle or the your stockings peeping out from your shoe and enjoy a bit of magic.

Preview for Friday: …Boo!

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