Down the hall, to the left: capturing abnormal rummage


Image courtesy of JoyAnna Sturgeon

When  thinking of garbage, most think of trash as a daily obstacle.  No one stops to wonder about what actually happens to the garbage and what it could bring to someone one with an artistic look on decomposing trash. When sitting down to look into the photographs of Kyle Petersen, having come across photos of decomposing trash or thrown out objects that most people consider useless.  

The photos Mr. Petersen shot seemed to be able to capture images that made me stop and wonder where he wanted my mind to go.  That if this is what happened to garbage when it’s thrown out or left on the side of the road, what could have been the motivation behind the tossed objects? The more I looked at them the more I thought of asking Mr. Petersen his reasons behind capturing such objects on film.

As it came time to ask him these questions, the answers received were unexpected.

“ I try to seek out beauty in unusual objects,” he said. “I want the viewer to stop and ponder items or scenes that are usually ignored or conventionally thought of as ugly.”


Image courtesy of

His pictures take on a new focus.

I realise that many would never think of garbage as beautiful.  Most would find it disturbing and quite gross to want to take the time to photograph something most do not even like to touch.

The more I dug into his pictures the more I realised it wasn’t just garbage that Mr. Petersen seemed to be attracted to.  He seems to like anything that can make a person stop and wonder and search for the reason behind the distortion in the picture.  What attracted you to distorting an image?

He replied, “ I’ve enjoyed image manipulation from the very start of my photographic education.  I think that it stems from wanting to create unique projects that don’t look like anyone else’s.  I am becoming increasingly disinterested in images that directly mimic reality.  I want to create work that is visually complex and causes the viewer to slow down and look at the world in a different way.”

His way of viewing things seems to play out even in the classroom.  He likes to show some of the most unlikely photographs in class discussions.  He genuinely loves helping his students find what they are good at.  Letting us go out and shoot before discussing what makes them unique or stand out.  The atmosphere in the classroom is relaxing.  

His website and seeing the photos that he takes had me wondering what made him want to teach over being out in the field.  He seems at ease in the classroom, like it’s his canvas to him being happy.

Seeing that he loves teaching in class had me asking what got him in to teach he replied, “ I was a teaching assistant during my time in graduate school, and I found that I really enjoyed interacting with students and helping them improve their skills.  Not only do I enjoy teaching, but it is also a nice, stable career for an artist.”  

“Having been teaching since graduate school, I haven’t ever been a full time field photographer. But, I wouldn’t trade teaching for anything. I’ve had brief stints as a photographer, but being a teacher rises above all those jobs for me.”


Images courtesy of JoyAnna Sturgeon

It goes to show that even though a person has a passion for one subject it doesn’t mean that it’s the only out-look on the subject.  Mr. Petersen has a very unique eye for photography, but in truth, his main passion is helping teach students how to define and create their own style.  He puts all he learns into his classes and shows his students that unique subjects and outlooks are all around us in our day to day lives.

Written by JoyAnna Sturgeon

Author: joyannachloe22

I'm 26. A journalism student and Wal-Mart Cashier.