Arts and Culture

Toilography: a new appreciation of restrooms through the viewfinder

Some photographers choose to dedicate their talents to capturing the beauty of the world. Others choose to dedicate their talents to capturing the toilets of the world in all their lavatorial glory.

Dan Schaumann has used a lot of toilets in his worldly travels, and he photographs every one of them. He turns the sometimes unpleasant, but necessary, act of using public toilets into an art form through his camera lens. He posts these pictures on his blog Toilography, a term he coined himself to describe his unique artistic medium. An Australian native who travelled for work while he was living in his home country, Schaumann started photographing toilets on a trip to North Queensland to practice using his new camera, and the photographs quickly became wildly popular.

The photographs certainly make you see a strange sort of beauty in a place you never would have expected to find it. From graffiti-covered walls, to nondescript bathrooms, to a zen garden paradise, the variety of restrooms captured through Schaumann’s lens is astounding. One of the more fascinating toilets featured on the blog is local, from the cafe Life Alive in Lowell Massachusetts. Teeming with tropical plants and inspirational sayings, the bathroom of this establishment is a miniature zen garden.

Another note-worthy toilet documented is at the Delux Cafe in Boston’s Back Bay. The walls of this bathroom are covered in a comic book theme, with graffiti littering their surface. One piece of self-aware graffiti reads “I am 26 years old and I am writing on a wall in a bar in Boston”.

Looking at Schaumann’s work makes you see toilets in a whole new light. While public restrooms may still be unsanitary and may not be the most beautiful subject for a photograph, Schaumann’s work turns them into forms of art. The ordinary becomes strangely fascinating, and the things we use every day are brought to our attention, subverting the idea that art needs to fit conventional standards to be profound.