On the Value of Beauty

Pile of white paper cranes sitting under a tree in the snow.
Crane Trunk

I’ve been thinking a lot about value recently. In particular, the relationship between value and beauty and art. Value is not to be confused with money mind you, as money is merely the medium in which value is exchanged. Instead value is tied to the things we need, but also to the things we like. Our values are a reflection of our beliefs, education, environment, and personal experiences. As the great street fashion photographer Bill Cunningham once explained: “Money’s the cheapest thing…liberty and freedom is the most expensive.” 

Last month, a friend of mine asked me to take some video of her because she felt super fab that day. I was flattered, because as she said “it looks better” when I do it. The experience made me realize something, even beautiful people want to look beautiful. Beauty is like money in the sense that it’s something people never seem to get enough of. 

But I also believe beauty is not limited to what we see. A dancer moves beautifully, there are beautiful stories, beautiful feelings, flavors, textures and ideas. In English, when we see a system running seamlessly we say “it runs beautifully.” My personal favorite are fleeting moments of beauty, because they make me feel lucky to be alive. It’s probably why I like eating so much!

The value of beauty in my work

I try to embed my work with the things that I value, because that’s how I make them value-able. As a general strategy, I have an obvious preference for surrealism, because I like the way it looks. My self-portraits are given a narrative, because I like pictures that tell a story. I want my work to be easy on the eyes, because who doesn’t like to see beautiful things? I want my photos to look like photos, because society treats photography very differently from paintings and drawings.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then it’s my job to show you the world through my perspective. Because I’m in the business of making things look pretty. While I could use these skills to help companies sell products. I prefer to use them to remind you why life is worth living. I’d rather spend my life struggling to add more beauty to the world, than helping people sell you shit you don’t need. 

Because at the end of the day, we could all use some more beauty in our lives.

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