I started taking photos out of an attempt to capture something beautiful. I was in Northern California, stuck in the middle of a thousand new things that triggered all of my senses. I wanted to remember how I felt in that moment. I wanted other people to feel what I felt in that moment.
When your senses begin to overcome you upon seeing something beautiful, how do you capture it? How do you seal that moment in time?
Photography, of course. The purest form of freezing time.
Everyone has a different eye for what is beautiful. I think that this vintage sign is sublime, but you might think it’s dirty and old. I hate snakes, but you think they’re gorgeous creatures. We reflect ourselves into what we see, and that’s how we determine what is beautiful. That’s how we determine what we want to keep forever and what we want to throw away.
As an active member of most social media, I see photography daily. People take pictures of their food, their family, their backyards. After viewing an album of old gas stations, I thought to myself, why don’t I take photos? Why don’t I share what I think is beautiful?
Finding inspiration in others, but also what I love, I began to take pictures on a summer trip to California in 2016. I was drawn to scenary, both manmade and natural, and things rather than people. I also noticed I was drawn to old-looking things: Coca-Cola signs, fruit stands, cracking buildings, the fading colors of a midway ride. I went from San Francisco down to Los Angeles taking pictures of wineries, towering redwoods, aquariums, Alcatraz Island, and more. Whenever I saw something I even remotely liked or found some kind of beauty in, I set up the scene, and took a snap. Saved forever in my hard drive and my memories.
My favorite place to take photos ended up being Disneyland, and more specifically, the area of Disneyland called Radiator Springs. Modeled after a small town off of Route 66, this town was taken straight out of the Pixar movie Cars, and included exact replicas of buildings from the film. This area was so well-done that it truly did not feel like I was in a theme park: I felt like I was in an old desert town, but surrounded by hundreds of kids and parents. I wanted to remember this amazing area, so I immediately began taking pictures of the areas I loved the most. Everything here was made to look distressed, used, and out of a different decade. The Cozy Cone Motel, complete with bright orange traffic cone-shaped “motel rooms”, a fountain area decorated with traffic cones, and a huge vintage-looking sign stating where you are, made me feel warm and at home just looking at it. Flo’s V8 Cafe, complete with faux stacked gas cans and pumps, was adorable. The street leading the way to the main attraction of the area was adorned with Route 66 signs, street lamps, and various buildings related to the movie. Manmade mountains and desert landscape completed the area, literally making one feel like they stepped into the movie. The fact that humans built such a beautiful area that I could walk into mesmerized me. I wanted to remember it as well as I possibly could. So I took pictures, and didn’t stop until I had a small gallery of the area.
Debatably the best part of taking photos on this trip was being able to share them with my friends and family. Describing how perfect a scene is can only do so much in the mind of a listener. Allowing people to be a viewer gives them the opportunity to see through the eyes of your camera lens. Some friends even set some pictures I took as background images on their phones or laptops: it was something calming or enjoyable they wanted to see while conducting basic, daily life.
To me, that’s what photography is: giving someone else the experience you had through a little frozen square of time. Next time you see something you find to be beautiful, take a photo of it. Share it with the world. Who knows where your photography might end up? All you have to do is snap, wait, and see.
Jenna Cocozziello is a senior marketing and writing student at the Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. Focusing on adventure and romanticizing landscapes in her photography, Cocozziello travels from coast to coast, taking pictures of her travels to share with the world. She hopes to expand her horizons to concert photography, since music is one of her main passions, and she writes music-related articles on a website called Progressive Zen