It’s been fun to visit the old digital neighborhoods as I turn the lights back on here. As is often the case somethings are very much the same, other things are different and some are no longer. Google appears to have shuttered Google+ – I wonder what that means for the communities that were heavily reliant on that platform. Some of my favorite physical and digital magazines are still in operation – Lenswork to name just one, while others seem to have ceased publication. Old friends and familiar voices are still working hard while others have retired. Such is the nature of things.
My neighborhood here in Connecticut has a very different vibe to Boston. The most immediate and obvious differences here are how hilly it is and it definitely feels that you’re in the middle of the woods. There are also many more rivers, streams and ponds than there were where I was on the South Shore of Boston. I’m about 30 minutes from the coast but at the moment it feels much further. I expect that this will have an impact on what I choose to photograph as i become more comfortable and settled here.
For now I’m content to not try to force things, preferring to ‘notice what I’m noticing’ and see where that takes me. This is easy to say and hard to do. It means quietening my thoughts, having no expectations and being open enough to let my sub-consciousness come through. I feel like only when I get into this mode that I’m able to create something that is mine.
I will continue to add photos to the existing portfolios on the site and add new portfolios as I finish photos. I’m working through my archives and editing photographs with a fresh perspective and new tools.
I have been thinking about a framework that I can use as scaffolding for my on-going and future projects. In other areas of my life I have found that having a flexible road map for what you’re working on to be enormously helpful in actually getting projects out of the door. As part of this process I have been deconstructing some of the basic assumptions that have served me well up to now and trying to reassemble them. Unfortunately I have parts left over which means either I’ve found a better way or broken something.
I started with vision, which I had interpreted as the way that you see the world. Looking at a dictionary definition of vision I found that vision was described as:
the faculty or state of being able to see.
the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.
mental image of what the future will or could be like.
Or to put it another way vision is the change that you want to cause to happen. For instance it could be telling the story and raising awareness of a disenfranchised group of society, shining a spotlight on the growing crisis of climate change, or mobilizing people to stop using the ocean as a dumping ground.
Vision therefore is not really unique, I know there are many others that are concerned about the state of the oceans and share the vision of clean oceans that will be able to support a diverse population of marine life. How you express that vision and work to effect change most certainly could, and should be, if you draw on and incorporate the experiences that have shaped you.
After running through a string a contemporary landscape photographers in recent weeks I could help but recognize that all of these were guys which made me wonder who were the women active in this genre. It was then that I remembered the fabulous book by Victoria Sambunaris, ‘Taxonomy of a Landscape‘ that I had recently came across. The book documents a decade long exploration of the American landscape and our place in it. In fact it’s two books, the companion volume collects the associated research materials and other bits and pieces that Sambunaris accumulated during the course of the project. A fascinating behind the scenes look into her process.
For more information on Sambunaris and her projects check out the video here and the embeded video below.
Growing up I spent an awful lot of time at the pool and it looks as though I’m going to be doing so again, although not in the water this time.
While sat watching my kids do laps I wondered whether I could use the time to develop a project, one that goes beyond the snapshots of the kids at the pool. It’s fun to start these projects, I find finishing them much harder.
In my stumble through contemporary landscape photographers I recently found Alec Soth, and particularly his recent photo book ‘Songbook‘ in which he is exploring physical social interactions in a world of social media.
I’m still digging into the rich world of Alec Soth, there’s lots to go at! His self published book ‘Sleeping by the Mississippi‘ caught the attention of the curators of the Whitney Biennial in 2004 and his inclusion in the exhibition launched him on a larger stage. The image above from his ‘Sleeping by the Mississippi’ project was used for the poster for the exhibit. He became a nominee of the Magnum Photos agency in 2004 and a full member in 2008. Since his first book in 2004 he has produced over 20 others, including Songbook, and a number in collaboration with writer Brad Zellar. He founded the publishing company Little Brown Mushroom in 2008 to publish his own books and those of others interested in a similar narrative approach to telling visual stories. A very busy guy!
See Alec talk more about his work in the videos below.