A NEW CAMERA

drool. After a three month layoff I found the motivation (and need) to get back in the saddle. (If the first bit here bores you, scroll on down, there are four items in this week’s post . . .)

The main impetus for reviving this thing is, I bought a new camera with the intention of shooting a project with it. My first new camera in 10 years.

Often photogs think to themselves, “If only I had that lens (or that camera) I could really shoot what and how I want”. Of course, after they buy the object of their desire they usually discover that their new tool toy doesn’t actually help them do anything at all.

With me, it’s the opposite. I bought the camera precisely because I had no idea what I would use it for. My plan was to have no plan, to see what this thing could show me.

The camera, a FujiFilm X100F, is kind of a take-it-anywhere, one-handed-snap-shooter. Haven’t used a camera like this for, probably, twenty five years.

And this is the first time in, like, 20 years I’ve started a project with no real thesis, no “look-at-the-suburbs“, no “shoot-the-dystopian-present“. My plan (so-called) is to just shoot pictures and see what turns up and out, to see where that leads me.

I have to admit I’m a bit apprehensive about setting off on such an undefined trip. It feels like stepping into a void. But I have faith that something will come of it. I just have to keep reminding myself to take it easy, not to rush, to let Nature take its course, to see what happens.

Writing about my confusion and struggle helps me know my mind, so I’ll be making notes here, thinking out loud, as the project moves forward. Tune in and read along as I bark up the right and wrong trees, as I follow paths that lead somewhere and nowhere, even though there’s no such thing as the “wrong” tree, or “nowhere”.

BRETT GUNDLOCK: STORIES FROM THE MIGRANT TRAIL

Sure, you’ve all heard about the caravans of migrants coming up from Central America, through Mexico, trying to get to the the USA. The media shows them as a pack, as a phenomena. There is never (hardly ever) any insight into just who these people are, why they, specifically, are on the move. Typical lazy, formulaic, media coverage.

Brett Gundlock had had enough of that so he set off to talk to them, to show individual people and to listen to their personal stories. His work was published this past December in Mother Jones. I suggest you click on over, read and look.

He also, in association with Homie House Press, published a newsprint of this work, There might be a few copies left. Consider ordering one to have and to hold, to support this kind of necessary independent journalism.

BEYOND ADDICTION/REFRAMING RECOVERY

I’m excited to be included in a group show that considers aspects of the opioid crisis with the idea that recovery is possible. Curated by Graham MacIndoe and Susan Stellin, it’s on view at the Arnold and Sheila Arnoson Gallery, Parsons School of Design, N.Y.C. Opening April 6th.

Check it out if you’re in NYC. Or go to this dedicated website where you can look at some of the photographs and read about the show.

OTTAWA NOTES

Lorraine Gilbert hosted a one-night-only studio show this past Tuesday. A swell turnout got to see modern, well thought out images from British Columbia. Photos of often derelict Vancouver, and of the big-tree forests that exist on the West coast and are, too, derelict in their own way. It was great to see these images in such a casual, friendly setting. (I’m definitely a fan of alternate means of display and distribution.)

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a large enough space to hang such works, but I have to tell ya I really like the idea of artists sticking stuff on a non-gallery wall and inviting folks to come, look, discuss and, it must be said, chow down on a very sumptuous spread. It’s a pity the event didn’t run longer, though there is something to be said for a one-night-stand. More of this in Kapital City, please and thank you.

NOVEMBER (MIXED FEELINGS)

This loose edit is as far as I got for November.

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.

NOVEMBER (IS OVER)

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