Discovering My Independence….

  Here’s hoping everyone has a safe and happy July 4th…
 Megan in Studio, 2010
Michelle in Sun, 2010

Creative projects are in full swing, and time for editing and post work suddenly seems in short supply. I’m also reviewing old film prints, particularly the frames and mats they occupy. These newer works will need homes. Evictions may be forthcoming.

I’m continuing to experiment with soft and no focus work and as a part of that, I’m incorporating the infamous LensBaby into the mix; more of those works will follow in forthcoming posts. Until then, here are two from an older session with Megan and a more recent window light session with Michelle.

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Nostalgia can grip me from time to time. For those that know me well, this may not be such a surprise, but an experience early last week was. I’ve written often of my struggle with the transition from film to digital. I’m making progress. Last Tuesday was confirmation of that.

I was in Atlanta and went to visit the old photography school and darkroom where I did the bulk of my work during the early portion of the last decade. Change has swept the place; the darkroom, studio, and upper floor classrooms are gone. All that remains are the lower level classrooms and a small gallery space. This was not new; the darkroom and studio spaces closed over five years ago.

What was new was the emotion I felt as I drove in. I took a route I’d not taken in years, and as I drove down the busy streets I found myself missing the long printing sessions with old friends; the midnight munchies with my lab partners, all of us stuffing our faces with smoked salmon burritos, gyros, cheese steak sandwiches, and of course beer. Well, beer for them. I gave up drink long ago.

What I came to realize is that with the transition to digital photography, photography itself has become a very solitary pursuit. And while I still sometimes think I would kill for a whiff of fixer or to feel my fingers slick with developer, I understood with startling clarity what I really miss is the friendships that were made and nurtured in the darkroom.

So the door closes a bit further for me on film, and opens a bit wider for new methods of achieving the same goal. And yes, I’ve made new friends, very good friends, via digital.

Perhaps it’s not as different as I thought.

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Earlier today, I took a stroll through the local Barnes & Noble Booksellers. I hadn’t been in the store for a few weeks and it was clear there had been a significant reorganization of the store floorplan. In fact, much of it was still in progress.

The shock for me was that the photography books – the anthologies, the portfolio collections, the essays, the biographies – were no longer in the “Art” section. They were in the “Digital Photography” section.

Now “Digital Photography” has long been shelved separately from “Photography.” However, I will readily confess it came as something of a surprise to see the portfolio collections of Imogen Cunningham and Henri Cartier-Bresson shelved alongside works such as “The Photoshop Darkroom”, or “No Plastic Sleeves.” Reality was impressed further upon me when I saw Ansel Adam’s immortal work “The Camera” alongside “Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Photographers.”

Make no mistake; this change pushes my experiences last Tuesday while driving in Atlanta a little further home. And, like much of the digitizing of photography, I understand that retail sales ideals and strategies drove the changes. My head isn’t buried that deeply in the sand. But was it really necessary to separate photography from art?

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