The more things change, the more they stay the same.
It’s true I tellya. Many years ago, I was hanging out with Jeff K. He was a good influence on me. A very focused guy and ties to the Phila Museum of Art. He knew Michael Hoffman and Paul Strand. Jeff had photos of both of them and many of Strand that he made. I just loved looking at them. He never once bragged about anything but just told stories about the photos. I can’t repeat them because I feel they were very personal and Jeff shared them with me that way. But I can say that Michael was like a son to Paul Strand.
I mentioned this for a reason. I had been a serious photographer for about 20 years prior to meeting Jeff. I was no novice and very dedicated to my life’s work. He asked me to bring photos for him to look at. He felt if we are to be friends, he wants to know about what I do and feel with my work. This is what many call an analog experience. So, we met again about a week later and I brought a box of prints to show him. I just piled many in a box and handed it to him.
We sat on a sofa and he started to drop prints on the floor in front of us. He was grouping the photos and I got kinda squeamish. See, years before my 2 friends named Paul, yes both, got on me about being loose and not so organized. I did that for a number of years. I suppose it did offer some kind of freedom and perhaps I needed that. This was different and I felt the change on the horizon.
I trusted Jeff because we were rapidly becoming friends and he had the knowledge I never had. I felt that we filled a void in each other. He with his education and knowledge and my working from the heart. S, these groups started to grow and the box was getting emptier and emptier. Jeff laid out about 30 prints on the floor that were mostly legs and or shadows. It was easy for me to see but I was blind to the idea that there were different series of photos even tho there was a connection.
He coined the term “Gambe’ Game”. I liked the word Gambe’ after he told me what it meant. The game was kinda repulsive to me. I told him, I don’t play games. Jeff said, when you are working a series, it’s like a game, like scrabble. you’re looking for missing parts. I started to awaken to the ideas he was presenting to me. Then he asked me to group the rest of the photos. I was very eager to do that.
I felt for over 20 years that I was not doing things the right way. Both Paul’s put me on a course and it’s good but like a sailor on the sea of life, without the stars above, you’re lost. Your lost even tho you are going someplace. It’s how I felt until this moment. I felt then that the stars were guiding me. They were my stars and like beacons that shined bright to my heart. By becoming fully aware of the variables that were my images, I was liberated and had a sense of well being. I met with Jeff a number of times and then time passed and so did our friendship. The lessons learned are the lessons one needs to pass on.
I’m publishing this short of finished because I need to see WP is being nice. If it is, in a few days I will continue rambling.
For everyone’s info and safety, this post was written wearing an N95 mask.