Marion, NC

I thought I'd write a little about my practice, as some have written in with questions.

But first: is there room for photographs as art from the real world? Relatively realistic depictions of what is in front of the camera and photographer? Or is that over? What about photographs that don't scream their intention? Or shock? Are we so amped up with so much exposure to all kinds of imagery that we can't be bothered with photographs that require a longer look, or that are intellectually rewarding when studied or that simply need to be read rather than moved on from in less than a nanosecond?

Case in point:

From Marion, NC in 2014 on the site: here

I am using as an example street photographs, of a sort. But with no people in these, they aren't my thing, photographically.  

The particulars are that they are from a field trip we took our class on from Penland School of Crafts in 2014. Chris Benfey, my friend and co-teacher and I, drove up and over a mountain from Spruce Pine right past the Blue Ridge Parkway, down a winding pass into a valley and in a few miles came upon Marion, a medium size town with clearly some textile industry and manufacturing in its DNA. Looking mildly prosperous, Marion is a one-main-street-town.

The photographs of mine from there are not spectacular. Walking with one camera, one lens, looking, in a frame of mind of being curious, wondering what is down that alley, around that corner. Not aggressive, or in anyone's face, sometimes trespassing but just a little, standing on someone's front yard or in a private parking lot to make my pictures.

A familiar process, this way of working for me. In some sense, something of a core approach throughout my career although not often a method that gets much attention. 

I like to think of this way of working as being "observational," relaxed and loose but below the surface highly tuned in and yes, even hunting. After all, what is the objective? To do this and not get the picture? 

As in any series there are those photographs that are seminal and those that are peripheral. Part of what I work to do is to find threads, subjects and structures in common, as well as parts that are anomalous. This comes not only from making way too many exposures but also in editing to find pictures that tie to others that can work or to find a rhythm.

Don't know if I am making sense here to you. Question: this work is complicated, intricate, convoluted, difficult, obtuse? Not so much. Question: this work is clean, simple, minimal, considered, resonating, seductive, positive? Hope so.

I've been writing about my practice so far. But a slightly different meaning to the word "practice" is this: we need to practice to be fluent. We need comfort and familiarity with our tools. We need to exercise our eyes and brain to allow quicker and more intuitive reactions. Although my pictures don't require outright speed I have to be on point, awake to possibilities and very into what I am doing. 

This time of year, winter in New England, after a couple of weeks of day after day editing and printing, I get restless and want to be out, shooting. Today, maybe not. 6F degrees above zero out there with the sun shining.  


It will come, you'll see.  And it will be very very good.

Permalink | Posted February 1, 2019