In March, as our world contracted because of Covid-19, daily walks became something of a lifeline. It was the only structure in our days, but it was also an exercise in seeing. Suddenly we were relishing details we’d never noticed before. My wife Marla proposed a goal, to walk every block of our city, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We bought a paper map and started to mark off the 113 miles of streets as we completed them.

At first the empty streets and sidewalks seemed eerie. But soon we began to realize it gave us space to look in a new way. Our days slowed to a single outing, our pace slowed to a walk, we began to spot wonders in each block – architectural details and the patterns woven into each row of houses, the whirls of tree trunks or the texture of paint flaking from walls.

It felt like traveling. We explored neighborhoods that we had rarely visited and walked down side streets that we never had been on before. Even on street we thought we knew, we began to see more.

The project made me think about seeing college and university campuses in a different way and how you can find the visual details that make your school unique. Let’s talk about some creative exercises to get you into the framework of of expecting to find something new, sparking creativity, and uncovering wonder. We’ll also talk about how to translate what you find into images that tell the story of your institution.

How can we see the everyday and familiar in different ways?

  • Take a walk
    • Get out of the office
    • Wander
    • You’re more creative when you’re moving

  • Find a different path 
    • Explore the unknown
    • Look for the details
    • Be nosy – Wander through areas and buildings that you often don’t go into
    • Talk to people
  • See A New Perspective
    • Framing -wide or long
    • Look close, look far away
  • Change your angle
    • high or low
    • look up, look down 
    • details and texture 
  •  Take time to reflect
    • What is the heart of your campus?
    • List of descriptive words that illustrate your campus community?
    • How do they visually manifest themselves?

In the next blog post, We’ll take the things that you’ve seen and make them real. We’ll talk about how to colaborate with photographers to get the best images of your college or university campus. Click here to read the next post…