New Year in New York

January 1st, 2009 § 0 comments

In Costa Rica we took the family portrait with the camera balanced on a wine bottle, and in New York, near St. Mark’s and 1st, we set it on top of a phone booth, aiming toward what turned out to be a closed shop and a grate covered in graffiti. Our midnight image looks ironically like the perfect Gotham City portrait; we are happy, soused, and smoking. Having left Inwood a little later than we planned, this picture came after the 11:58 run out of the subway station in a ridiculous (but successful) effort to be above ground at midnight. Far away from the madness of Times Square, we imagined we could hear reverberating echoes rebounding off near by buildings. More immediately we were surrounded by the sounds of honking taxicabs, random pedestrian shouts, Shem’s vocalized yells, and muffled happy new year’s! coming from crowded bars.

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Winter Walking: A Question of Endurance

December 24th, 2008 § 3 comments

Perhaps in winter I should become a devoted photographer of interiors…

In a recent fit of exasperation I was going to write a long diatribe entitled what is wrong with winter?, on the value of having a winter, suggesting that the beauty of seasons—real seasons—is that they provide contrast and therefore appreciation of ones environment. I was spared writing this post, however, by an amusing turn of events. Places (and people) that rarely see snow or truly cold temperatures, such as Southern California or Las Vegas, received a good amount of cold weather long before we did.  A cousin of mine took some lovely, although surreal, images of the Las Vegas strip covered in a light layer of snow, and T-shirt wearing west coasters were holed up for days because of closed roads. All this, happening before it even snowed in Gotham, seemed to lessen the necessity of my argument. There is, obviously, nothing wrong with winter, but now that it has come to stay in Gotham, I remember how problematic it can be for “wandering” photographers.


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Idle Hands

November 21st, 2008 § 1 comment

When I met with Susan before leaving Richmond she said, jokingly, “you probably could work fulltime and still make a lot of work…!” I laughed at the time, but the last few months have tested that statement—a test proving that while it might be possible, it is highly impractical. I used to laugh at the people who would say, major in something “practical” (I smile broader now that “practical” majors are, or soon will be, as “useless” as my own) and to pursue other interests as a “hobby.” This loosely translates into how you can give up your real interests without losing all self-respect while doing it. Practical major or not, however, life after school involves a great deal of juggling. From my current perspective I am glad I used my time in grad school the way I did, essentially I bought two years of time from vcu leaving me free to make work; now I am slightly envious of those who are still in grad school if only because they are still at liberty to make, and are expected to do little else.

It has not been a problem to make work with images already taken, such as those I shot over the summer and early in the fall. The Oregon City images were a good place to begin, editing felt new because I have hardly had time to glance through them since the summer—the Holgas have yet to be seen in positive form. An idle scanner on my desk at work has prolonged the inevitable purchase of my own, but has sped up the process of making and printing. Taking new images, however, has been the real challenge, not simply because of the time it takes to go walking, but also because time of day has a lot to do with my ability to wander with satisfaction. If only I could gather together remnants of time from each day, and could compile them together into a whole day.

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A Healthy Dose of Cleverness

November 13th, 2008 § 1 comment

Around Penn Station I hesitated at a stoplight, despite the walk signal, because of a man handing out newspapers. This itself did not strike me as strange, as “free” papers are shoved daily into the outstretched hands of a mass of workers heading toward various offices. The man handing out this particular paper, however, was different: why had I never seen him before? a free New York Times? a young, Columbia-like student handing out papers? breaking news that did not make the press? I almost continued on my way, hesitated, stepped back, and reached out to take a paper. The way he handed it to me, carefully folding it in half, suggested it was an item of significance, and this too struck me as strange. Who still carefully fondles a newspaper most of us read online? It is safe to assume I read too much into the way people handle and view objects, the chances of this being like any other “promotional paper” were much higher than it being different, but in this case I was lucky in being correct.

iraq war

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Hysterical Encounters III

November 6th, 2008 § 2 comments

(after the election)

At the conclusion of a long campaign that gracefully skirted around the issue of race, it was amusing to see what a central tropic it became on election night. News coverage on the 5th took calls from african americans living all over new york city, most of whom talked about previous resentments such as the gentrification of their neighborhoods, and concluded by saying that the election had changed most of their anger into something more hopeful. While it was a “historic” night for our country, it is clear that the president-elect was not made such by minorities alone, and Obama’s election, perhaps because of the pressing issues of the American pocketbook, did appear to transcend race—his “landslide” victory (364 votes) proves that. Getting lunch at the local deli yesterday, pictures of Barack had been cut from various newspapers and taped to the fronts of cash registers, and the conversation of various couples over lunch revolved around the previous night. A group of african american girls were teasing a young man who said he cried, “well it might be the only time I get to see that happen…” The general mood of new york, and elsewhere I am sure, is one of excitement. There is so much energy in the air of this city already that the election outcome seems to have added a new frequency, a higher pitch, to the crowded streets.

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