I knew this photograph would be a favorite from the moment I saw the preview on the Ricoh, but it wasn’t until nearly four years later that I would make the most of it, both as a photographic work (thanks to discovering Lightroom) and as a visual metaphor for my professional activity.
The fragment of a building captured in the frame is wabi-sabi at its best—a semiotic feast of resolved contradictions: cautionary and quiet at the same time, clean and dirty, worn and pure, centered and unbalanced. Even the text is a double entendre, and a reminder that we rarely think about invoking a trancelike state when dealing with less evocative entryways. The typeface is almost certainly Gill Sans, a humanist sans-serif designed in England in 1926 by Eric Gill, typically modernist in its clarity but with a more organic feel and a less consistent character set than many of the mechanical, structuralist fonts of the time.
In the beginning, I questioned whether it was entirely ethical to use this image as part of my personal brand. Yes, I took the photo, no, the subject wasn’t trademarked by anyone else. Still, the contradictions I was claiming for myself were in fact Arken’s. But I have learned since that the sign is no longer there at all, and I’m noting how the idea that a photo can never be taken again may be what makes it most ownable of all for the person who took it.