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Naming the Unknown


When this journey first began, the thrill of getting the perfect shots totally negated how to name these momentous moments.  As effortless as it was to take the picture, naming them became a huge challenge rather quickly.  My perception of the project was glorified; my reality was, “What have I gotten myself into?”.

How does one go about naming hundreds, or even thousands of barns?  Names like “Big Red” and “Majestic Grey” can only go so far, which, by the way, you will see on some of my earlier works.  To give myself some type of bearing, I began using road names; quickly realizing that there would have to be a numbering system as well.   The prospect of twenty-five “Smith Road Reds” would become a definite issue should that many red barns be on that road. 

This would result in the addition of plural and non-plural names such as “Smith Road Red I” and “Smith Road Reds I”, to distinguish whether there was more than one red structure in the shot.  As time went on, I realized that I could use defining features of the barns to further the naming game and started the “Across the Field” and “Beyond the Corn” series.  Eventually I added other features to the names, such as “Rusted Red” or “Fieldstone Grey” in conjunction with the road names to further my naming capabilities.

Then there was the issue with the dreaded “un-named”.  Those are the ones, where, for some reason or another, did not get named in the field.  This does not happen like it used to, but it happened quite frequently when I was first getting my legs in this project.  Literally, hundreds of barns that I had no idea where I was when I took them.  Luckily I have kept good records of where I was on a certain day and, for most, I can find some defining feature that makes them stand out in my mind and am able to develop a name for them in relation to the township or village I was in.

As I reflect throughout this ongoing journey, the names have been a big deal.  Now when I pass an area barn, I can instantly identify it as, of course, with the identity that I personally gave it.   I had to develop ways to organize this behemoth undertaking.  Identifying 1,200 plus barn pictures over the past five years has been, both, a daunting and breathtaking experience.  It has allowed me to reflect inward, as I peruse this collection, to a point in time that I know, in that exact instance, I was one hundred percent in the moment. 

A moment frozen in time.  A mindful moment where a picturesque star was born; granted with a name that is befitting her beauty and ageless grace.

Big Red VII
0007 – Big Red VII (0007-BAR-110716-1211P)
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What the Mind Perceives and the Truth

Most of us, upon seeing something, instantaneously make a certain type of judgement about what we are seeing.  We observe the face and imagine that we know the story.  Many times, we get caught up in our own perceptions of the world and fail to look beyond that which faces us.  Is it because we are afraid of what we might discover?  Or is it that we sometimes mindlessly go through life, not looking for another view outside of the one we already have?

I have taken many pictures of the same barn, however, if you are not paying attention, it will never dawn on you that you have looked at this barn in a couple different views.  I name my barns, usually, based on the road that I am on when I take a certain picture.   From one viewpoint you see this proud, majestic structure; from another you see the agedness you did not recognize from the first angle.  This depicts how many of us go through life not understanding that one perception is not always the true story. 

To understand any story and to have a valid understanding of any situation, it is important to walk around the barn.  Look at the varying angles, the weathered wood, the animals that call it home.  Look at the rusted roof and the sway of the field that it sets in.  Look at its dusty old rafters and imagine the life that has filled those walls.  Listen to the wind blowing through the rafters and the light whistling sound that it makes. 

Walking around that barn allows for the ability to come to the full truth of most situations.  Perception can be your friend or your foe.  To quickly judge is a disservice to those affected by our perceptions because we truly did not take the time and go around that barn.  To take that journey, one must be willing to spend the time necessary to get the whole picture.