The Fence

The fence is part of the picture.

Photograph of the Ford Parkway bridge in Minneapolis.
Ford Parkway Bridge over the Mississippi, connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul

I can’t remove the fence. That’s the thing about photography: it’s the world, we get what we get. So the fence is part of the picture, and any artistic story I try to put behind this photo has to include it.

I found this scene by accident, and came back later to get it in the morning light. The bridge is lit up and seems to draw you over to the other side, where a new day is arriving from the East. You could sit on that bench and reflect – there’s no one around, it’s an out-of-the-way place. The bridge connects Minneapolis and Saint Paul, two cities in which I’ve lived most of my life, so I’d have plenty to think about. But while the bench is in shadow, the bridge is optimistic and full of possibilities.

But then there’s the fence. It’s there so no one falls down the steep bank and into the river – that’s good, it’s a friendly fence. But it’s painted black and sort of blocks the view.

Well, things are never perfect. We imagine something over there on the other side, in the future, that we think we could still have, or be. The fence says – wait, maybe just stay here on the bench, thinking about stuff, it’s peaceful. Or… get up, go uphill a couple of blocks, walk across that bridge and find out what’s really over there… if anything…

That’s the story I for for this photo and I’m sticking with it. Oh yeah – rule of thirds, leading lines, diagonals – I see them here, but I like my arty story better. So even if PhotoShop 2040 could cleanly remove that fence from that tangled background – it’s staying.

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