It was 1962 and I was 13 years old. I worked part time with my grandfather, He had a family business doing Hardwood Floors. We were heading to a job near center city Philadelphia. We rode along Market Street from 28th down to 2nd Street. I had never seen Center City before. I was captivated and just observed everything my vision could digest. It was a visual wonderland for me and I was in love. I learned from a school mate how to get around on PTC the Public Transit Authority. I traveled all around and saw a lot of the city and surrounding regions. I was a real photographer, only thing was, I didn’t have a camera and I didn’t know what photography was. I damn sure was a street shooter. Yeah baby!
Years would pass by before I knew what photography was but still couldn’t do it. All in due time. As I look back thru my life and the years that melted into the present, I realize that those times forged the path for me to walk now. I had a makeshift darkroom built on a meager budget but it was mine and I learned. I won’t go into many details about that but needless to say, it was a feeling of love I never experienced. I had a friend named David. He was a family friend and taught me and guided me thru this part of the journey. We worked in the darkroom and he would say, how much time for exposure for the enlarger? I would say, 1:30 1 min 30 seconds. He would smile and then make the exposure as I suggested. We made many prints and I always felt the exposure and that’s what we used. After a brief time David told me I didn’t need him anymore. He said, Donald, there are many millions of people that do photography and they all love it. He continued, you are the only person I ever met that photography loves. Honestly, these words had no meaning for me then.
After Nam I was kinda secluded in my heart and mind. I stayed in my room for a while and didn’t want to leave the comfort and safety of my personal womb. Sometimes during the day in my room, I would have flashbacks. At night almost always nightmares. Inn time I realized these images needed to be dealt with as photos. I started thinking that I needed, wanted to see my beloved Market Street. I grabbed my camera and headed down town. That single event saved my life. I walked all around and compared the now to the past I remembered. I made photos of whatever I was attracted to. The city, buildings and mostly the people living in the poetry of life.
That was 1971 and I haven’t stopped walking Market Street or making photos. Ya gotta love what your doing or how can it love ya back.
Ya gotta watch your life cause no matter how close you are with someone, it’s your duty, just as it’s their duty top watch their own life. I have been told several times that I am too serious with photography. I’m guilty as charged. It’s my life’s work and I can’t feel that it’s a light duty experience. It’s not that I’m special about photography, it’s that photography is special to me.
That shoots me to the present. I think that the camera, any that I have and use, keeps me in the here and now. It becomes an anchor and friend I can work with. It becomes a connection of sorts. If I start to have my mind wander around and pick up thoughts, the camera keeps me on track. That’s why I name my cameras and call them my friends. Because they keep me alive. They are not just objects for me, they are a part of my essence.
Why am I writing all this? I suppose in a way it’s a ventilation because i’m in lock down since March 11th. I went to the vA Hospital and for about 90 m in, I walked around Market street and made some photos. I can’t tell you the therapeutic value that had on me. My soul woke up and saw the light for a short time.
Happy Mother’s Day to all. Be Blessed and thanks for reading my rambling thoughts. Shhhhh… I get to the VA again on Tuesday so shortly thereafter, I’ll make another pose.