For much of my career I’ve shot in places that I’ve never returned. Foreign countries, unfamiliar streets - markets filled with activity and people - where countless visuals are there to be taken in or missed. Mostly, I have no opportunity to return and perhaps refine my gaze or interest. But here at the home on the shore, my bedroom becomes resplendent with light that filters through the old glass in these windows. I came to the shore often in the run up to the Hermitage show, to work on the edits and angst over the words that would open the book and ponder whether anyone would come. In the mornings I’d drink coffee and read in the bedroom to begin the day, later moving downstairs to the computer and bike rides, lunches outside. On sunny days, as the afternoon lengthens, the bedroom comes to life again. It’s as though the “studio” is opened. And at the foot of the bed, I work this canvas shooting still lifes of one sort or another. Strange and beautiful things I’ve kept or gathered. Playing with the arrangements, the focus or lack of - enjoying what comes to life. The light of course moves as the day heads to over, and I follow it’s path, rearranging whatever I’m shooting to the pools I’ve been given. And then it’s gone. A perfect party, finished. It’s different now as spring moves to summer. The big trees are leafing out and the light more mottled than the stripped down winter beams. Different certainly, still beautiful.
THINGS WE KEEP: The old china plate, long separated from it’s set, lived for years as a saucer beneath a clay pot of summer geraniums on the porch of my sister’s house, having migrated with her from Richmond to Raleigh. When friends later came to divvy up her plants, it was left on the steps, it’s lovely earthen patina revealed. I wrapped it in newspaper and stuffed it in a box of other things I would haul away, careful not to disturb the evidence of its aging. If inanimate objects have a soul, and why not really, I imagined this plate thinking, why me?, placed in a box with other “special” things. I’ve asked myself that, later going through things I’ve kept. And all these boxed up items, sitting patiently wondering if maybe someday I’d come back to them and find purpose for them once again. “Shoot me, please....” they say. And eventually I do.
Booker T Washington and Julius Rosenwald built about 5000 Rosenwald Schools for African-American children across the South. By 1928, one-third of the South’s rural black children were served by Rosenwald Schools. This one in Cape Charles closed in the early 1960s, and was used as a fish processing facility for a few years before closing completely. It will be renovated by a local trust in the next two years.
In shooting photos, I recognize that often it is just a matter of showing up. Looking for something, turning corners. And on some days, the good ones, they are there. Outside an orphanage for challenged children sits a blind boy in an orange tee shirt against an orange wall in shades trimmed in orange. Who will believe this I might have thought, knowing it doesn't matter. So show up.