Red Door, Venice | Mark Lindsay

I was in San Francisco last month making photos while walking around the city. Suddenly a door opened to my right. A person scurried out, obviously having gained momentum before opening her door. She was in a hurry and ran off. That happens often in the city. Doors are so ubiquitous that we take them for granted. Yet, each one is a portal to an unknown universe; a gateway to the life of a sentient soul.

As anonymous travelers meandering through the life and time of a great city, we walk the streets adjacent to myriad portals. There they are. Closed, yet poised to open at any moment. And then, randomly, a door moves, a person emerges. We get at tiny glimpse into that person's universe. The door reveals a character of light, or the clutter of a life. Sometimes cooking odors reveal a meal in preparation. Other times music pours out for our entertainment. Often the person is sensitive to the public nature of the street, he closes the door so fast we barely get an inkling of what is inside. It slams shut. We are left wondering, fascinated by the tantalizing hint. The life remains a mystery. Strangers are not allowed inside.

The door has always been a subject I've loved to photographed. Each door, like each person, is unique. In other lands the door often reveals more personality than it does here in America. Doors are more open, less forbidding. People stand in doors in other countries. The door becomes a home base for social activities. Around here, the door seems to be a utilitarian object, open for the brief moments described above.

Porches are part of this story. They are the extremities of doors, an extension to them that invites socialization. Sadly, porches are now outmoded. Before air conditioning, it was a place for comfort, a way to escape the residual heat of home. Now, during heat waves, the door remains shut so that the cool air might not escape. The porch is now barren and fallen into disrepair. We have become prisoners to our comfort.

Writing this makes me want to drop everything, pick up my camera, and go on a treasure hunt of doors. Even today, in this crazy-fast world where people pop out of their doors like prairie dogs from burrows, doors are endlessly fascinating. They are both the gateways and obstacles to the soul.