Monthly Archive for October, 2008

troubled waters…..

Troubled waters

    

does it seem to you that so many things seem to be a mess at the same time?? the financial market, the war, the campaign, and oh yes right here on our blog…er, forum…

right here, after almost exactly two years, things could appear to be coming  unglued…as i read your comments and e-mails, while usually thought provoking, i see  dissension, in-fighting "behind the scenes", angry rants,  and signs of weariness abound….

is it time for us to "cash in our chips" and walk away from the table at least not completely broke??

i mean nobody HAS to be here!! and almost all of our regular writers have openly "quit the blog" at one time or another…or at least threatened to…me included…

as Tom Waits once asked, "whatever happened to saturday night?"…

you can bet that i am very curious about what you think….but, i will tell you now what i think….

we started as strangers and became a "family"…or , at least, a family "type"…basically a pretty healthy happy family…i mean, we hung out together all the time….i do not know about you, but my girlfriend told me more than once that i loved all of you more than i did her…or sure seemed to spend  a  lot of time on this relationship, perhaps  more than that relationship….she might have had a point…or a least a legitimate complaint….

lots invested here all around…..your writing, your photographs, my writing, my mentoring….a nice little creative trade out that seemed to work for all….lots of great photographic  work came from many of you….after all we actually "produced" right here and continue to do so…blog  generated essays…ways of thinking to lead to more work….generous critique from all of us….no "tech talk" , but a lot of "life talk"…

and all based on the assumption that if we are not human beings first, no good "art" could come out  of it…my mantra for all of you to "look in the mirror" sure as hell worked for so many of you, and if nothing else comes out of our time here, then just wait and see when all your  introspective work gets published in the very near future….but looking in the mirror does not always reflect a pretty picture…some digging deep might unearth the very demons that both drive and destroy….other "reflections" reveal an inner strength and peace….so , do we not all learn from each other???

people "out there" really  believed in us…still do….generous donations from anonymous givers have come in this year to be invested in YOU….our Emerging Photographer Fund will continue no matter what and was born from our "family" right here in ethereal blogland…

so what happened to our family that birthed all this incredibly positive stuff?

well, what happened  i think is that we actually became a" real family" ….anybody here know a "real family" that has not seen: dissension, infighting "behind the scenes", angry rants, and signs of weariness ????   sounds pretty familiar to me coming from a very tight loving family….the phrase "dysfunctional family" gets thrown around a lot, so i will throw it around one more time….aren't all "real families" pretty dysfunctional one way or another?? 

if we are a "real family" , then why in hell wouldn't we share all of the characteristics that anybody in their right mind well knows personifies FAMILY ??  i say smiling "too bad", but true…well, what the hell?? at least we've got a roof over our heads!!

so you tell me….should we keep rolling or not??  every single writer here who ever "quit", sooner or later returned..talked into it by their friends they met here….and even a few by  their "sometime enemies"…i can right off the bat  think of two serious clashes from talented photographers here, BOTH of whom i have promised to mentor book projects…and i will….and for anyone else here who shows promise…

do you not think there have been "clashes" among some of the most talented icons you may know??  yet still they form an extended family….ultimate respect born of just flat out acknowledgment and acceptance  that we do not all think alike , photograph alike, nor behave alike…do you not think i have seen this at Magnum for example??  are we not still stronger after all these 61 years of being very very different from each other?? would we be a "happier stronger family" if we all walked , talked and looked alike???  i do not think so… sounds boring to me….sounds stifling to me….

i have always been suspicious of  "families" that were just too too "perfect"…as a matter of fact ,i have seen more divorces among the "happy couples" than the ones who figuratively knock each other around a bit..i also think  we can be honest with each other , yet  show some common decency and respect as well….

so, i think we now sink or swim….choice 100% up to you…not me….i cannot pull off my totally energized ideas now of an online magazine, to be manifested in print as well, without all of you lending a hand…some of you perhaps more "hands on" than others, but we "sink or swim" on the "whole"  …i believe  we are in a position to do great things…unique…first class ticket….i think most of you smell this  too…

our interaction is unparalleled in blogland…you must know that….we have been "here" for each other time and time again…but, should we  take the "next step"??  it is not that "all good things come to an end"…it is that "he who hesitates is lost" or some other tried and true phrase that i cannot think of right now that connotes something like "what the hell, why not give it a shot?"  see, i know already that one of the brilliant writers here will "set this up" just right and be most eloquent…..

yes, everything does seem to be a bit of a mess….it seems that worldwide, things could swing one way or the other….we all feel it….there is promise, there is potential disaster…so, what do we do with our little microcosm of life??  let it stall, or make it fly with the wind???

"troubled waters" or "sea of change" ???? 

surf’s up….

THE DOG

all anybody ever talks about down here in the Outer Banks of North Carolina is the weather… wind and the direction thereof is on everyone's mind and it is cause and effect of  the changing patterns affecting fishermen and surfers who make up most of the population..and, oh yes, there are a few photographers …and all they talk about is the weather too…

yesterday afternoon was summer warm and i had a good swim (with a stranger's dog above) right at the perfect hour for shark shore feeding.. well, there has been only one fatal shark attack here in the last 6 years, so i enjoyed the hour….anyway, today is colder and gray….but, i will swim again right after i do this post….we all know a swim in the surf seems to heal the body and soul….a natural "massage" for our bodies  and the salt water, from whence we came, seems to balance us both mentally and physically….

in my experience and friendship with so many photographers, "balance" does always seem to be the number one  problem for most….either too much work or not enough work or too much of one kind of picture and not enough of an other kind of picture seem to plague many…we have talked before about the  personal life/professional life conundrum, but i am writing now about the delicate balance within the world  of actual picture taking itself…i am assuming in this conversation that everyone's personal life is just fine!!!

Gayle Tiller (below) is a local photographer , who happens to be a single mom, and has raised her three daughters alone now for the last 9 years…she mostly photographs families right here on this beach where i have photographed her as part of my family project (weekly postings now under "work in progress")….

Gayle spends lots of time with her daughters and the locals say they rarely see one without the other during the summer months..she says "i love just hanging out with the girls…they are my favorite people to be with and we are all really good friends"…so, Gayle has her personal life worked out and she totally enjoys doing her beach portraits….she does not want for more…

i am curious about most of you and your "balance sheet"…do you photograph mostly the things you love or do you have obligatory shooting to do???  which way does the wind blow?   

ok, i am off for a swim…camera along with me of course….i never know what i will run into along these shark infested shores…
     

SINGLE MOM
 

poll….

for sure you cannot pick up a newspaper or turn on the television in the U.S. and not see the latest "poll results" regarding the choosing of the next leader of the "free world"…polls, polls, and more polls….we have an international readership here, but i suspect the choice of the next President of the United States is of concern to one and all…

with world financial markets crashing all around us, and an almost doomsday paranoia seeping into the souls of even the most optimistic, certainly what happens on November 1 is of more than passing interest….

while the U.S. cannot be blamed for ALL that is wrong in the world today, it must surely bear a lot of responsibility…if a country rises to prominent world power, it must "take the heat" when things are a mess…and i think we can safely say that things are not exactly "tidy"….

this is a photo blog…..by some kind of unspoken consensus, we have all pretty much agreed here to not talk about religion , sex, or politics (the three most interesting topics in the world), but concentrate instead on the philosophy and practice of becoming better photographers….of course, everyone knows that becoming a better photographer is primarily about "awareness" and not necessarily knowing how many megapixels aunt Mary has in her new "point and shoot"…

so, on a sunny bright  morning here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, 20 miles from the largest military complex in the world, and  as i prepare to photograph a military family,  i have decided to take my own international poll…

since we really should not  go into politics here , i will couch this poll in photographic terms …you may fantasize either digital or film…black & white or color…..

who would you most like TO PHOTOGRAPH in January of 2009….Obama or McCain???

aftermath…..


Loft_2

Loft_1

Loft_3

 

all good things must come to an end….i hate writing those words….but, those words are one of life’s  little truisms….and i suppose the richness of any experience is actually enhanced by the very fact that it is temporary…so all of us, when smack in the middle of the buzz of camaraderie, just try to soak it all up as best we can, knowing full well the moment will soon be stored on the hard drives of our memory and the "reality" will be gone..

such are my musings on a clear monday morning after an often not so clear recollection of all that went on last week…"intense" is, i suppose, a reasonably good way to describe the gathering last week in my loft….i cannot recall a more dynamic, often frustrating, and ultimately rewarding workshop class…and segued into a gathering of our online forum tribe the likes of which have not quite happened before and will not likely happen again….or will it??

my apartment looked like a war zone hospital ward (sleeping guests everywhere) the night after the night after the celebration ,following the friday evening student slide show, lasting up until just a few hours ago…no joke…all of us knew something really "special" was happening with our community here, and nobody wanted to "let go"…

many of you have read all of the comments leading up to this gathering and the reports are still coming in, but i can assure you that we all felt the "surge" of a new era…the feeling that so many things are possible for us…and the promise of good things to come…

most of you, of course, were not here in my loft….and we talked about that….there is nothing worse than reading about somebody else having a good time….but, i hope the spirit of the work that was produced by the students (soon to be posted) and the general good vibes of your colleagues here will be somehow transmitted into your psyche….the beauty of the whole thing was this: our online relationship has manifested itelf into reality..both in the work many of you have done and in the personal friendships which have been built…i expect this to be carried forward into more good work by you and in personal meetings in the future…

now we must all get back to work…the party is over…..those who were here must get back to their "normal lives" and i must get out on the road on my family project  in a couple of days…but, we have all changed…a little bit of last week and the weekend will stay with us forever…treasured….thought about over and over and over again…play back the tape….this story will last….

perhaps the appropriate "truism" is that all really good things end up with a life of their own….