Starbucks: Willow & Cherry: Signal Hill

The morning started out brisk, yet sunny. We met at the Starbucks in Signal Hill, a small city completely surrounded by Long Beach, known for its hill which was used by local indians to signal other tribes far away. It’s also known for its oil fields which dot the landscape and could potentially make for some interesting photos. On the way there, Eric, being hopeful, said he thought our word today would be “oil”. I accused him of peeking at the word a little too early!

We arrived and ordered up a couple coffees and took the Wall Street Journal, being the top paper in the rack. We opened to page 7 and noticed that the second word on the page was the last name of someone we had never heard of. This is the first time where we actually had to make a new rule on the fly. We quickly decided that our word couldn’t be someone’s name and we treated this situation like we do when an ad appears on the 7th page – we move to the next section of the paper, look at its 7th page, and grab our inspiration word from there.

Today it was: states.

State is the particular condition that something is in. It’s a territory or the act of expressing something clearly in writing or speech. But our word is plural: states. Immediately our instincts turned us toward the conditions of something. We tasked ourselves with finding something that we could show its multiple states of age. People age. Metal deteriorates. Paint peels. These were all things that immediately came to mind from past experiences with what we’ve found. But this time, we knew that we had to capture multiple states of the same thing and not just one state.

states: behind the scenesWe were off to the oil fields to see what we could capture. There were lots of things to shoot in an old used state, but practically nothing was in a new state in the old oil fields – some of them even abandoned.

One of the used, discarded items we found was an old tire tossed into some bushes. The tread completely worn with the only texture left being the frayed steel belts coming out of its edges. It was pretty interesting and we felt that we could easily find another tire that was in a lot better condition to represent its early state of life.

We talked about this concept more and more as we walked but weren’t totally sold on just showing another tire – it almost seemed too easy and not deep enough. So we kept looking and shooting and hoping that we find something else that could represent multiple states.

More than halfway through our 72 minutes, we came across another oil field that still had some muddy ground from a recent rain. It was interesting how its top layer was cracking and peeling similar to some paint we found earlier on an abandoned building. Perhaps we could show 2 totally different things going through the same state in their life. It definitely was an option so we captured this as well.

As we finished shooting the drying mud, we turned and saw the shot and we both knew we hit the concept on its head. There, in front of us, were the deep treaded tire tracks leading across the oil field – we knew instantly this was a much better way to show a tire’s youthful, useful state to contrast against its lifeless, worn state we captured earlier. We shot the tracks and decided to keep moving along to see if we could capture something even better, since on the last shoot we found something else to shoot in the final minutes we had left.

We walked further and talked about what we found and searched for something else. Today, we were only finding more of the same, so we decided we’d revisit some of the peeling paint we found earlier to offset the peeling mud. And then we’d revisit the old tire to capture other angles to make sure we were covered. It was a lot of ground to cover with only 12 minutes left, but we hit both of the locations a second time and got enough to work with.

At the end of it all, we knew that we had to decide on one idea that represented states to us the best. The tire’s states won out today:

 minute:72 : states


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