Photo Exploration: Rotten 2. December 2013.

This pho­to is (prob­a­bly) my favorite from my Rot­ten series.

Rotten 2

In this series I pho­tographed food that would oth­er­wise have been dis­card­ed. I pro­duced this work as a play on the tra­di­tion­al still life and a reflec­tion of my own habits.
I became frus­trat­ed with the amount of waste leav­ing my own home. At the same time I was enam­ored with col­ors and tex­tures that appeared when food, espe­cial­ly fruit, was left to rot. 

By tak­ing light­ing cues from the Old Mas­ters and uti­liz­ing bro­ken, dried, mold­ed or oth­er­wise unap­pe­tiz­ing pro­vi­sions as sub­ject mat­ter, I jux­ta­posed some of our tra­di­tion­al pre­sen­ta­tions of edi­ble beau­ty with our waste. 

This work also speaks to the lux­u­ry of my abil­i­ty to con­sid­er the scrap­ping of food when a great many com­mu­ni­ties can­not. Our con­tin­ued refine­ment of food pro­duc­tion enables us to have greater con­trol over appear­ances until it reach­es our home, but after­wards we eas­i­ly dis­card that which devel­ops an unpleas­ant appear­ance. Even if the food main­tains qual­i­ty, we will quick­ly dis­pose of that which looks unap­peal­ing. Grant­ed, some of the ele­ments used in this work were lit­er­al­ly dis­gust­ing, but much of the mate­r­i­al could have been eat­en or oth­er­wise reused with­out ill effect.

With this work I explore con­cepts of what is appeal­ing, suc­cu­lent and edi­ble while explor­ing my own stan­dards of that which sus­tains. This work ven­tures to bring the focus back to ordi­nary decay and nat­ur­al cycles. With the desire for clean­er, new­er, brighter, shinier or clear­er sub­stance we read­i­ly dis­card that which is still — or even more — beau­ti­ful once left to nature’s own processes

Photo Exploration: Empty Cabinet

Mis­sis­sip­pi is a bit of home. There isn’t any­where I’ve spent as much time, and very few places I’ve done as much pho­tog­ra­phy. I tend to tread care­ful­ly with that imagery how­ev­er. It’s a loaded space to pho­to­graph — near­ly every­one I’ve known has his­to­ry there, and not all of it pleasant. 

How do you go from broad­ly paint­ed strokes to per­son­al­ly vivid, nar­row­ly focused work? Where is a start­ing point, maybe a touch­stone for focus­ing in on a sin­gle moment? If that can be found, then we can work back­wards and build a nar­ra­tive that involves the his­to­ry and the pres­ence of the area. Instead of a few vague thoughts, we will have cre­at­ed a sol­id con­struct to han­dle all the infor­ma­tion and emo­tion from engag­ing such an over­pow­er­ing entity.

I had the excep­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ty to pho­to­graph in two dear places in late Feb­ru­ary. One, the town of Natchez, was where I was born and spent a great major­i­ty of my ear­ly life. Walk­ing around down­town and vis­it­ing my grand­par­en­t’s old home and church, tak­ing pho­tographs of places I’d been pho­tograph­ing since near­ly my first roll of film. It was remark­able in the qui­et and noth­ing­ness of a sun­ny Tues­day after­noon. The oth­er loca­tion was around my in-law’s fam­i­ly farm house. My wife’s great-aunt passed away in the late 1990’s and the house had been untouched in many ways since. Although the prop­er­ty is occu­pied with equip­ment and hors­es, the house itself has been devoid of per­ma­nent res­i­dence in over a decade. Being grant­ed per­mis­sion to pho­to­graph the rooms as I found them was a lux­u­ry — the insight into what is still a very accu­rate por­trait of life there was amazing.

Using those two loca­tions as the gen­er­al map for track­ing a path across Mis­sis­sip­pi, I gath­ered mate­r­i­al for a series ten­ta­tive­ly titled “Where the Dust Set­tles.” Below is one of the pho­tographs from that series. All film, either Ektar 100 (120) or Ilford HP5+ (35mm).

Empty Cabinet

The sim­plic­i­ty of a bath­room — a heater, a cab­i­net. Left ajar for a dozen or more years. To be hon­est, I don’t even know if the cab­i­net is emp­ty. There could very well be med­i­cine, band-aids, old mag­a­zines and Maalox wait­ing for a bit of light to shine in. But it was not my turn to dis­turb the scene. I set up, metered/focused and exposed the film.