Photo Exploration: Brick from Katrina, August 2015.

Ten years. In my com­ing-on-ear­ly-mid-life­time, I’ve expe­ri­enced a few ten year anniver­saries. Ten years after the space­ship Chal­lenger. Ten years after high school grad­u­a­tion. Ten years after 9/11. And now, ten years after Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na dec­i­mat­ed the gulf coast across three states.

There are many, many, many remem­brances and notes and sto­ries and tes­ti­monies that will be shared today. I don’t have much of a tragedy to share — all my fam­i­ly sur­vived, near­ly all our homes were intact, and although I was with­out pow­er for three weeks, it was a small price in the larg­er pat­tern of destruc­tion. I don’t car­ry much in the way of per­son­al sor­row or loss.

What I do car­ry with me is a brick. One brick I’ve kept from the mil­lions and mil­lions that once formed thou­sands and thou­sands of homes that were dam­aged or lost in the storm.

The facts have been known for so long and the analy­sis of the fail­ures so detailed that it’s almost rote at this point to dis­cuss the day. I do have my own mem­o­ries and emo­tions from the day and what hap­pened after­wards for sure. But I think that a bet­ter sto­ry is one of a sin­gle piece of mason­ry that was in a home for year and years, then ripped away from its place and left in the mud by nature being.…well, nature. We can’t be mad at nature and we can’t fault storms for grow­ing into mon­sters, but what we can do is exam­ine at a piece of what remained to see if we have bet­ter pre­pared our­selves for the next time cli­mate comes knock­ing at our door.

Photo Exploration — FALL Rehearsals, July 2015

I was for­tu­nate to be the Sideshow Fringe Fes­ti­val 2015 pho­tog­ra­ph­er, and as always there were many incred­i­ble ses­sions of the­ater, aeri­al­ists, pup­pets, and music. There are many, many, many tac­tics one can uti­lize when pho­tograph­ing per­for­mances. Long expo­sures, high-ISO cap­tures, processed images to high­light the per­former — all are good options. Anoth­er option on engag­ing the sub­ject: shoot once, process none. Shoot film, process, and take what develops.

In addi­tion to the actu­al live per­for­mances, I was also invit­ed to check out some rehearsals, includ­ing the work of the FALL com­pa­ny. It was pret­ty incred­i­ble to lis­ten in and hear some of their process as they rehearsed through the work, and to try and unob­tru­sive­ly cap­ture some of the dis­cus­sion­s in pho­tos. Below are three of those images next to one of the per­form­ers dur­ing the rehearsal set.

FALL Rehearsing, Side Show Fringe Festival 2015

FALL Rehears­ing, Side Show Fringe Fes­ti­val 2015

Giv­ing up some con­trol with the medi­um lets me work in the avail­able light­ing and motion with­out stress­ing over the upcom­ing post-pro­cess­ing. A chance to pho­to­graph the mood and ambi­ence in the unpol­ished envi­ron­ment. A bit of a loos­er, yet more focused, feel­ing from the per­form­ers seems to come out in rehearsals. When the dancers are con­tin­u­ing the com­mit­ment of their work to mus­cle mem­o­ry it’s almost like a pho­to cri­tique. Peo­ple are look­ing for input, look­ing for encour­age­ment, but also any­thing that helps rise the lev­el of the work is welcome. 

Many thanks to FALL for allow­ing me to shoot the rehearsals!

Photo Exploration — Kiddie Ride, Hendersonville North Carolina

Down­towns cen­tered on Main Streets are still around, and they often pro­vide a view into the past. And some­times there is a per­spec­tive into tran­si­tion between the past and present as well. In Hen­der­son­ville, North Car­oli­na, there is a vibrant down­town with music instru­ment stores, bars, knick-knacks shops, ice cream coun­ters and delis. Includ­ing this old phar­ma­cy with the dog treats, cig­a­rette recep­ta­cle, and kid­die horse lined up out­side the front door.

I see this pho­to­graph as a doc­u­ment of ten­sion. I tried to lim­it the sur­round­ing con­text to a min­i­mum, although I did sneak in the his­tor­i­cal plaque on the left wall. Between that dec­o­ra­tion and the tiled entry­way, what is orig­i­nal? We see a procla­ma­tion of this “new” own­er­ship, man­age­ment, whathavey­ou — “The old ‘Jus­tus Phar­ma­cy’ ” — so some­things have changed. Maybe the Coke bar­rel by the door, prob­a­bly the dog bis­cuit offer­ing — those are cer­tain­ly new. The neon sign could go both ways — maybe orig­i­nal? Our reflect­ed awning is like­ly orig­i­nal, if not restored. But the horse — what of the horse? Def­i­nite­ly weath­er-worn, and from an ear­li­er day when the motor cas­ings were still met­al instead of shock-proof plas­tic. I’ve no idea if it works or not — unfor­tu­nate­ly I’m always bereft of loose change.

Is the restau­rant mere­ly trad­ing on nos­tal­gia and rep­u­ta­tion? Do they have gen­uine respect for the his­to­ry of such a space, or are they lever­ag­ing the horse to hook tourists into spend­ing some quick cash? I should say that I don’t know at all — but I would imag­ine that the new own­ers are prob­a­bly on the “respect and restore” side of the coin than the “appro­pri­ate and abuse” the past viewpoint.

Kiddie Ride

This pho­to­graph was made on a rainy after­noon in June 2015, with 35mm Supe­ria X‑TRA 400 in my Leica M3.

Photo Exploration: Nurse Log in Percy Warner Park, May 2015

It had been a long time since I’d clam­bered into the woods, dirt under hands and scrap­ing knees, to make that metic­u­lous­ly framed pho­to. The more found-and-street pho­tog­ra­phy I do, the less of the com­pose-recom­pose-recom­pose-again process I had done. Last week­end was just such an oppor­tu­ni­ty. Walk­ing in Per­cy Warn­er Park there was up on a hill a large tree that had fall­en across anoth­er tree and, over time, twist­ed away and set­tled on the ground. In the future it will prob­a­bly be a nurse log for oth­er growth. Unfor­tu­nate­ly it was a good was up that hill and too far for any lens to get it from the road. It was a very cloudy day mak­ing hand­held shots tricky at best, and this being under cov­er of trees I had no choice except to scram­ble up car­ry­ing my tri­pod to set­up for the shot.

Nurse Log, Percy Warner Park. May 2015

Shoot­ing with the Leica M3 at 35mm can be tricky. On the tech­ni­cal detail side, this was made with the Leica M3 with a 35mm f/2.8 lens. Expired T‑Max 400 shot at 200, f/11 at 1/2 sec­ond. With that 35mm lens there is an attach­ment to the viewfind­er to ensure prop­er fram­ing, but when the cam­era is low to the ground in an already uncom­fort­able sit­u­a­tion, it’s tough to ensure that the set­up is just the way you want it. With a lit­tle time and patience, that part came together.

Next was meter­ing and set­ting the shut­ter. Get­ting the expo­sure down is thank­ful­ly a breeze with my hand­held meter. Since it was a long expo­sure, a self-timer was going to be used. With the Leica there is a strange lit­tle half-winder on the front that you set, trip to start, and then when the winder fin­ish­es it fires the shut­ter. It takes a few tries to trust it — espe­cial­ly as the winder can run whether or not the expo­sure has already been tripped by the shut­ter button.

But when all was done, the pho­to was made and can now be shared.

Photo Exploration: The Lost Fashion Shoot

I had worked with Bone­yard Cloth­ing in ear­ly 2012, and loved every­thing they did. When anoth­er oppor­tu­ni­ty came up in May 2012, I was thrilled for a stu­dio shoot.

It was lots of fun with a vari­ety of looks among three mod­els, and I was excit­ed to get BYC the work. I slipped the mem­o­ry card in my bag and went home to process the pho­tos. And at home, I opened the bag and looked for the card. And looked, and looked, and looked. And pan­icked. I had nev­er phys­i­cal­ly lost a card before (and haven’t since), and was­n’t real­ly sure what to do. I did the only thing I could do — call BYC, apol­o­gize, and accept that I had let them down.

Until this past week.

Bone Yard Clothing, May 2012

 

As I was dig­ging around in a long-repur­posed bag for some­thing else, I felt what could be a mem­o­ry card. Lo and behold, there was a lit­tle sleeve inside a zip­pered pock­et. When exam­ined, it was the lost card! I was great­ly relieved to get the ses­sion back (although two years late) and was sur­prised at how much my style has changed, at least in what I was tak­ing for the major­i­ty of the shots. Although my per­son­al favorite picks from that ses­sion are still (rough­ly) in line with what I would shoot today, I liked see­ing a lit­tle bit of pro­gres­sion here and there.

My sen­ti­men­tal­i­ty gauge is pret­ty unbal­anced with this work, as I believed for years that it was com­plete­ly gone. The redis­cov­ery of these images has been a great boon, not least of which for the free­dom that I see in the work. There are many ele­ments in much of the rest of the series that I would be sure to clean up now in the stu­dio rather than in post, and even in the above I see a few bits that I would try and adjust in the moment. But isn’t that a lit­tle bit of what makes nos­tal­gia nos­tal­gic? That we can’t go back and relive the past, but we can at least learn and laugh a lit­tle at the experience?

Thanks to Bone­yard Cloth­ing for set­ting up the shoot, and Justin of The Go Dev­ils for being the mod­el in the above photograph.