2023 01 05
Fresh eyes

I’m excited by the images I made last year. I also found time to look at earlier work with fresh eyes.

Of course, being a photographer - an artist, a human - is always a work in progress but by taking a lot of pictures, looking at art, reading and thinking deeply about photography, I’m becoming a tougher, and hopefully, better judge of my own work. This will be a big help this year as I select images for my first photo book.  I feel I have something to say now that makes sense to me and so might to other people too. I’ll continue to share my images and thoughts here.

2022 12 10
Doing our best in Black & White

The desert reminds us of the toll the world takes on things.

You do your best. You go to work. You do your shopping but time, the desert wind and flying sand that comes with it has a way of burying things. So what's left? It's the kind of question that keeps people away from towns like Apple Valley. The town - at least the business center of it - is what you see in most small towns but in a few more miles and minutes with the sun searing down on you, you start to notice the sheer enormity of the desert. It flicks at the town’s edges and homes where backyards blend into stretching brown dirt and mesquite bushes. Window shades are drawn. Trees and bushes are planted to block out the sun. Homes are fenced in to keep coyotes and intruders out and dogs and children safe. Cars - crucial transport to the non-desert world - clog front yards. Everything, and everyone, adapts to the extreme circumstances of their surroundings. 

2022 11 19
Giving up control

No one I spoke to about my trip to Washington, DC this summer told me July was a good time to go.

It’s the hottest time of year but I had a place to stay and a plan to see ‘American Silence: The Photographs of Robert Adams’ exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. 

Photo: Robert Adams, Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery

When Robert Adams was interviewed by Sarah Meister for Aperture PhotoBook Club, she asked Adams why he photographed the way he did. Adams replied that he used art, seeing and photography to find, and discover, hope and beauty. Or has he put it, in order “to survive in a hostile world.” Photography as a lifeline to hope made a lot of sense to me.

In the morning I would pick a spot on the map and drive to it later in the day. Most days rain would appear in the late afternoon, slickening the roads and soaking the hillsides. I had missed the colors you get in the east after a good rain - the lush greens and rich, deep browns.

I thought about how hockey coaches caution younger players to not “grab the stick too tight.” It’s their way of telling younger players to ease up their intensity and how they approach the game. I wanted to try that advice out - to give up more control of my picture-taking to the weather, my memories, my mood. I want to care less about the end result and just see everything as it is, not for the photograph I want it to be. That meant more taking of pictures, with less prejudgements on subject, form, or style.

I’m not sure how successful I was but these few simple pictures begin to hint at what I want to achieve. 

2022 10 15

I was parked behind a welding shop in Queen Anne, Maryland when the rain lashing my car windshield turned to hail.

I could barely see through my fogged-up windows but the sound of the hail and wind buffeting the car told me I needed to wait it out a bit longer. When the storm finally stopped, the sun broke through the clouds, falling on the soaked green landscape. I got out of my car. A woman across the street from me was looking for damage the storm left behind so I asked to take her picture. 

Afterwards, I drove several miles to Hillsboro, the next town over. I parked on the banks of the Tuckahoe Creek near the original brick home of abolionist Fredrick Douglas. The creek was quiet and still after the storm. By the next morning, the river bank and the backyards of homes in Hillsboro would be dry again.