THAT FUNNY TIME

A few weeks ago I ended my post by saying: But, really, I’d rather be out in the world turning over stones, seeing what kind of bugs crawl out.

That post, in general, was about completing the exciting phase of a project and dealing with its commodification. I suppose some folks like the commodification aspects of photography, especially if they measure success by sales, accolades, and so on. Me, I find it mostly dull.

I mean, sure, there are some fun and rewarding aspects of bringing a project to its conclusion . . . I get to work with my hands, make prints and dummies,  hold stuff and figure out how to hone the work into its final shape.

But I miss going out into the world and, well . . . reacting.

So, while I’m still in the commodification phase of my last project I’m also in that funny time in any creative person’s life: between projects.

What’s next? I wonder.

I’ve been mulling it over, but not in an overt, front-of-my-brain way. More like letting thoughts percolate in the back of my brain and, every so often, I think to pay some attention to what’s going on back there.

Typically I spend 2 or 3 years on a project. The only way I can be engaged for such a long period is if I choose a subject/project that I’m genuinely interested in. Every new project begins (and continues) with a struggle for discovery and some attempt at understanding my relationship to that which I’m photographing. The fact that I look for more from the process than merely ending up with a bunch of new photographs complicates matters.

So I’m biding my time, secure in the belief that, sooner or later, something will come forward, assert itself, capture my attention.

But I’m in no hurry these days. I’ll just let it happen.

In the meantime . . . I garden.


SPOTS

There are still some spots available in my Master Classes. Check out last week’s post for a précis or go here for detail:

Deeper
Portraiture as Experience

HAND’S ON

I’m conducting a couple of Master Classes this summer. Check them out if you think (or kind of feel) that the approach I practice, and write about here, is one you’d like to learn more about. These classes will be hand’s on and participants will get lots of personal attention. Follow the links for more detail and dates . . .

Portraiture as Experience will teach you an approach to portraiture that will transform your experience for both the photographer (you) and the (your) subject.

You’ll learn a number of simple things that will help you to open up your relationship with people you photograph. I’ll also be showing you some technical and logistical stuff that will help you to free up how you work.

But wait! There’s more! We will also discuss how you can work towards creating a complete portrait project that suits your aims and ambitions.

This class will change how you create portraits.

The other class is called Deeper. It will introduce you to a philosophy, strategies and approaches to photography that will add nuance, depth and complexity to your work. You’ll learn how to use your camera, and the edit/sequence process, in ways that will transform your photo practice.

Deeper
Portraiture as Experience

UK FALL 84

This is a continuation of a history of my early years in photography. (First published in Medium/Vantage.)  Here is a link to the previous episode.

UK FALL 84

I’m not sure what we were thinking, beyond some romantic notion that by going back to a place we’d both briefly been before, a place where we’d had some intense experiences, we’d somehow be born anew. Or something. But in the fall of ’84 we sold everything we owned, scraped together some money and went to the UK.

I thought we were going to look for jobs. Cin thought it would be a good idea to take a train waaay up north, and go on a walking tour. Even though I’m no Nature Boy, even though I’m no fan of staying in hostels (the British versions of which are straight out of Dickens, or something George Orwell could have written about: harsh, regimented, often run by tyrants), even though we had hardly any money, I said, “Yes”, and off we went.

We’d walk through country for days, stay in small towns. I was stuck in a place where there was really nothing I wanted to photograph, so what I did was I shot our passage through the land, 2 people on their way to, really, nowhere, through the desolation of the UK at that time. (This was the year of the miner’s strike, a last-ditch attempt by working people to stave off the heavy hand of Margaret Thatcher. It was super violent, the verge of Civil War and that juju permeated the whole Island.)

Done, we went to London to look for jobs. We were tired and beat from our walking excursion and the social and economic climate there was just brutal. After a week or two we knew this was not the place we wanted to be. So we thought, “Where do we go from here?”.

TRANS EUROPE EXPRESS

Sick and tired in England, we bought one-way train tickets to Thessaloniki, Greece. Our friends Avi and Meredith were living there and we thought we would visit them. Feeling the failure of our UK plans, kind of depressed, nearly broke, we dragged our sorry asses across Europe to get to a place where we could rest, assess.

We passed through Paris, Dole, Vallorbe-Simpion, Venice, Ljubljana, Belgrade and Skopje. We would exit the train and spend a few hours or a day or two in each place. I felt unconnected and sort of uninterested; the only point seemed to be to reach a destination. The images I shot reflect this, passing scenes, mysterious to me, and the train taking us somewhere.

Once we got to Avi and Mere’s place in Thessaloniki, we relaxed and faced the inevitable: We had hardly any money and zero prospects. Time to go home. We went to Athens and booked the cheapest flight we could find. It wasn’t leaving for 4 days; we holed up in a fleabag hotel and waited it out.

Then we were back in Canada, back where we started. No money, no prospects. But we still had each other.