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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Gate, Bridge, but Golden?

December 20th, 2008 § 0 comments

If San Francisco is an iconic and beloved city that defines the west coast to outsiders, then the Golden Gate Bridge is more an iconic symbol of California than the grizzly bear prowling the state flag. Like Highway 1 and the coastline it winds along, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of California’s greatest attractions. I have driven on, walked across, and taken a boat tour under, that bridge.

The 2006 documentary, The Bridge, aesthetically resembles countless postcards of the Golden Gate, and the surrounding areas it connects together. It feels as though it were filmed from every geographic point from which the looming red gate can be seen, and it captures, much like a living object, its different personalities. We see the Golden Gate from above, below, and behind surrounding parks. Time-lapse photography allows its appearance to change in seconds as fog rolls in and out of the bay, clouds linger or pass across the highest suspension points, as rare San Francisco mornings of bright blue push yesterdays clutter from the sky. Quoting an article from the New Yorker entitled “Jumpers,” on which the film was based, “there is a fatal grandeur to the place.”

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The Unseen

December 3rd, 2008 § 0 comments

Sitting in the Dallas Airport once again on my way to Palm Springs, I passed my layover in the usual way by eating lunch and photographing out the window. Instead of catching the Obama plane like some I know, I witnessed something more sinister.

I thought at first a famous “someone” was boarding the plane fueling near my gate, as cars of an unusual kind drove outside the plane, and uncharacteristic people milled around the wings. I was taking pictures more out of boredom than interest, and I was watching mostly because the activity was happening in my direct line of vision. As I snapped away, the milling men directed a certain car into a specific place, and they themselves appeared to be assuming some kind of formation. The closer I watched the unfolding activity, the more I pieced together what was happening. The men were military officers in dress uniforms, and the car was a hearse.

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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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