The header of my blog is a detail of the house I used to see through my window when I would write. It’s a beautiful and very unique villa that is across the street. Dubai loves its subdued tans, browns and beiges. Colored tile and bright colors are not common, so I loved looking at that quirky and intricately decorated house on sunny afternoons and wonder about the people who live there. (Incidentally, my view is different now. Apparently Dubai can build the tallest skyscraper in the world and shape artificial islands into gigantic palm trees, but can’t connect wireless on both floors of the house we live in. At some point we moved the internet downstairs. So now when I work on the blog, I usually sit on my couch and look through the windows of my living room. My view now reminds me how powerless I am in stopping the never-ending sand from blanketing my patio and outdoor furniture in a seemingly permanent dusty film. I try to focus on the trees and flowers in our yard so I don’t think about how I should get out there and clean.)
I love the idea of taking pictures from windows at home, capturing scenes that might pass unnoticed unless you have a camera in hand. I also like the idea of photographing a landmark in different types of light or weather. I have lots of pictures of the mosque I see from my bedroom window. Here’s one I took recently at dusk.
Here’s another from my bedroom window, but I took this super quickly and hopefully stealthily when the window was closed. I prayed that the film on the outside of our windows that make it difficult to see inside was working really well because I didn’t want to distract the painter. I can’t think of a more dangerous pair of shoes to be wearing while balancing on a wobbly plank of wood on the absolute highest part of the scaffolding with no safety equipment in sight. It was like watching a circus act from the comfort of my bed! The other guy is standing on the little planter outside our window. Hope it’s made to support his weight!
This is a picture I took through my kitchen window with my mobile phone. It’s a typical Dubai scene: Something is broken. You call someone to fix it. A crew of 7 men show up, even when the problem is minor. All but two men then sit around doing nothing. These are those 5 men with nothing to do, making themselves at home in my backyard, while the other two tended to the problem.
Every single morning, no matter how hot, how sandy, how humid the weather, this man is washing our neighbor’s cars at 6:30 am sharp. He’s usually the first thing I see when I take my first bleary-eyed peek out of the window. I felt a bit like a cheap paparazzo when taking this quick snapshot, but I wanted to capture this scene from my bedroom window to remind me later how certain daily scenes in Dubai that may seem innocuous to a casual observer actually say a lot about the culture here.
I’m certainly not the first to be interested in taking pictures from windows. In fact, the first known photograph ever taken was through a window (and coincidentally it happens to be kept on the UT campus in Texas now). For more info about this photo, read this interesting post.
Some of my favorite photographers had entire projects based on photos taken from the window of their home. Ruth Orkin (of American Girl in Italy fame) dedicated two books of photographs taken from her window. From her website:
Orkin lived in three New York City apartments during her lifetime; Horatio Street, 88th Street, and on Central Park West, and all of these locations appear throughout her work. She first photographed the children in her West Village neighborhood, and later found the vantage point from her 2nd floor window on88th Street interesting. However, it was the view from her Central Park West apartment that she would shoot for the next 30 years. These panoramic photographs of the changing seasons and the skyline became the subject for two books “A World Through My Window” (1978) and “More Pictures From My Window.” (1983) Orkin used to say that she chose the apartment, because the view was the closest thing to the orange groves and mountains of her childhood in Southern California.
Eugene Smith also took photographs from his New York apartment when compiling photos and sound recordings that became the Jazz Loft Project. From his 4th floor window on 6th Avenue, he snapped pictures at dawn of jazz musicians leaving after a night of playing and truck drivers delivering flowers in the nearby flower district. When I think of my boring street I get a little envious of all the cool things that were happening outside of his window back in the 60s!
What’s your window to the world look like? I would love to see posts from other people showing your view, where you write or your neighborhood. I’ll link it here if anyone wants to do it. 🙂