City photo album would transcend barriers

Mizu Sigumura stands next to Federal Way photo contest entries inside the Federal Way Community Center.  - Photo courtesy Mizu Sugimura
Mizu Sigumura stands next to Federal Way photo contest entries inside the Federal Way Community Center.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Mizu Sugimura

Earlier this spring, my adult son and I decided to walk the indoor track at the Federal Way Community Center.

After finishing our laps, I spotted on a table by the main door a promotional flyer for Federal Way’s 2008 photo contest.

As anyone who knows me is aware, it’s very hard — if not impossible — for me not to hear free paper calling. My weakness for full-color brochures having anything to do with upcoming art and cultural events is legendary. For 25 points, a shot at the championship and what’s behind door number two, guess what leapt into my shoulder bag?

In regards to cameras during the early years of my thirty-plus year marriage, the spouse (partner with a rational mindset) was naturally in charge of any photographic equipment we owned.

When I made any noises about wanting to make sure a camera was on hand, my resident expert would brilliantly hold forth on what technology was involved to take those kinds of shots, what criteria could possibly be involved and a short history of where he had purchased this or that piece of equipment required.

That is, unless the equipment he needed required the possible purchase of more equipment, which would send him scurrying to a stack of photographic oriented magazines and catalogs we were so lucky to have to collect data proving beyond all reasonable doubt that a visit to the camera store was more than justified.

Happily due to the person(s) responsible for the invention of digital technology, my lack of interest in camera mechanics and technological acumen is no longer a crippling handicap, and my life has been transformed with the kind of photographic possibilities I could only dream about in years past. It took me only a few days of ruminating over the flier to decide this was a great year to commit.

An odd thing occurred during the second day of the three days I set aside for shooting. I became aware what previous attitudes I’d held about city parks, facilities and resources in general had mysteriously changed. Simply put: Seeking attractive spaces in these venues to photograph allowed me to discover beauty I had completely missed when visiting the same areas on previous occasions with friends, colleagues and family in the past.

We’re aware old family albums allow members a window into the past to examine what relatives valued. Communities are just a larger family. Far-fetched? Many are well known for having personalities. Might not a city benefit from a chance to see itself in a photo album — say a mass snapshot display at the community center.

Consider the unusual property photographic images have demonstrated to transmit as much information on the photographer and their perspective and emotional states as the chosen subject.

Data like this also transcends day-to-day barriers between diverse populations trying to surmount walls posed by spoken and written forms of the language.

Relying solely on traditional pathways to collect information in regards to city residents has already been shown to yield far less desired results. Recent changes at Federal Way City Hall such as going directly to the neighborhoods show great


Not only do photographic surveys have the promise to acquire more immediate and usable details than with more conventional data gathering, its intentional, pro-active approach allows for the possibility of emotional bonds as those made over universal pictures of children and grandchildren — moving our city closer to a tipping point where the likelihood of fruitful rather than fruitless exchanges will take place.

Federal Way resident Mizu Sugimura: mizu.s@comcast.net.

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