I have mixed feelings about these. On the one hand, I sort of like them. On the other hand I’m not sure they mean that much to me, and I’m at the stage in my life now where taking photos that I just like doesn’t scratch my itch. I want more.
Some have told me that I should file these away and carry on this work next November, to add to this over time and, that way, end up with something more. Not a bad idea. But I’m not sure.
I reserve the right, though, to look at these later and to change my mind. Perhaps over time I will see something here that I’m missing now, perhaps they will move me and provide the insight I crave.
But at this point in time I consider this November thing a failed experiment. Nevertheless it is grist for the mill, and my mind’s a mill.
And on that note drool. will be taking a break. See you back here in 2019.
Well, despite the bravado with which I ended last week’s post, I must report that November (the project) is over. The snows that came early this year threw a wrench into my plans.
With November, I knew exactly what I wanted to evince, and I needed grey and brown forlorn dreary landscapes to do it. Not to mention I had just thirty days and 30 sheets of 4×5 film to get it done.
But after spending some time this week out in the snow, photographing, and after scanning and considering the results, it became obvious that it just wasn’t going to work. The snow wrecked it.
When you go out to look for evidence that will support your foregone conclusion it’s entirely possible you won’t find it. Either that or you’ll see that there’s more to the story that you originally thought or wanted. If I had gone into November with a different mindset it would be a different story, I could have used the snow to add a layer to the thing.
But I was looking for something specific and Nature conspired against me. Believe me when I tell you, though, that I don’t subscribe to (most) conspiracy theories. Plus, I’m not taking it personally.
I’ll leave you here with a few snowy landscapes, and the words of the Québécois poet and singer Gilles Vigneault:
Mon pays, ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver Mon jardin, ce n’est pas un jardin, c’est la plaine Mon chemin, ce n’est pas un chemin, c’est la neige Mon pays, ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver*
* My country is not a country, it’s winter My garden is not a garden, it’s the plain My path is not a path, it’s the snow My country is not a country, it’s winter
Overnight the dismal, forlorn fields and forests I was using as the landscape that would represent November have turned into picturesque, crystal fairytales.
During this project I’ve been wondering what kind of weather to use. I wanted it to be, well . . . atmospheric, but not melodramatic. I love how the dreariness of the brown land on a grey day seems like a harbinger of tough times.
(Of course, there’s nothing you can do about the weather. In my day-to-day life I rarely complain about it. What’s the point?)
As a photographer I get to choose what light and what weather will best suit my purposes. Typically I’m not a golden-hour photographer, I mostly prefer high-noon. I usually like everything lit and the content of my photos to be mediated by the thing in front of my camera rather than by some atypical, melodramatic atmospheric condition.
So I guess I’m more of a New Topographics guy than a proponent of the Todd Hido school (which, for me, seems like photographic hyperbole and melodrama enabled by too much Photoshop . . . akin to a velvet painting. Mind you, he is pretty darn famous and successful. And you can make of that what you will).
Anyway . . . I’m not completely wedded to shooting at high-noon and having everything I shoot look, well, clinical(ish). Parts of USER were shot at twilight and my most recent project, After the Fact, was shot in low light.
With my new project, November, I’m pretty much splitting the difference between clearly showing the thing I’m photographing and using typical November weather (grey, sleety, miserable) to facilitate some feeling.
But for this project the snow changed everything, it knocked me for a loop. Out today, looking, walking, thinking, framing, I was overwhelmed by the pristine prettiness of it all. But pristine, pretty and picturesque are not what I want.
We all take this World and mold it into some thing that represents our outlook. And photographers use a camera to manifest their viewpoint. So I’ll take what I’ve been given and warp it to my sensibilities. Snow or no snow.
AFTER THE FACT:: ANOTHER REVIEW
A very interesting review by Delaney Turner, where in he draws parallels between Official Ottawa and After the Fact.
“WhileOfficial Ottawaspecifically presented Canada’s capital city as the seat of federal power,After the Factwidens its viewpoint to powers we can neither see nor elect.”
You can read the review here. And buy the book here.
Makes a swell Xmas gift. Get one for someone you love (or just like).