….it’s 1976 summertime at night, about 7:30 pm. Bill and I are at the Polynesian bar on Walnut at 18th Streets. We are each drinking a beer talking about photography. Bill says, Don, I can’t keep up with you in photography. You are too serious and you understand more than I dream of. I was flattered because, in a way, Bill saved my life and got me focused on the very thing he says he can’t keep up on. He mentored me on art, presentation, curating, editing, seeing and introduced me to Ding McNulty. I really felt good. Bill told me, Don, I went to RIT for 4 years and you know and understand more than my professors and never finished High School. Now I was uneasy. I mean I knew that this was meant with an intent but not know what that was.
….back to the bar. These 2 older guys are eyeing Bill and me up. They are very obviously a couple and appear very loving. The taller guy walks over to me and says, M3, nice. He says, 35mm Cron, great lens. What do you take pictures of? I replied, Life. Hmm, he says. Does Ya have anything against death? I said no, I spent a year in Nam and death. He told us that he was a Grunt in Korea and made many photos for the Corp.
We start talking about the military and war and all the shit in between. I asked him if he still made photos and he said he has nothing to say anymore. I said I can’t imagine having that situation.
2 days later, Bill came to my house and shook my hand and said, Take Care. I never saw or heard from Bill again. I believe he went to his sisters in California.
I can see myself sliding into the abyss of silence. It’s not like tall man so many years ago, it’s more intense. I feel that I have something to say, no I need to say things but don’t have the energy and heart to do so. Maybe it’s not even that. I hope that it’s external stimuli that affect me to the point of drowning in my own negativity. That I believe I can manage somehow and even muster up the gumption to fight the good fight. What if it’s not external at all? What if it’s internal, my eye, heart, and mind that are lacking the energy and more? What if I realize that I don’t have anything to say. What of the lost words that speak my thoughts and memories? What of those thoughts? Where will they live or will they as me die?
I think about this stuff because it matters. I’m told by others, that it matters to them also. Maybe that’s the most important issue at hand. See, if I am self-destructive, mainly it’s caused by me and to me. I don’t know, my shrink at the VA keeps things focused for me but it’s me that’s out of focus. Maybe I’m not out of focus. Even with the Leica, I have more photos zone focused than precisely focused. I think here, I’m in the zone of reasonable thought train even if not precisely focused. The point is like this. If you learn something from someone, there exists an inherent responsibility to share that knowledge. The other responsibility is to take that knowledge further than when you found it. This is not a mandatory thing. Most won’t want to explore those thoughts and all the work that comes with them.
So I accept the burden of being my own source of energy and inspiration. Not that I don’t get these things from others, I certainly do but mine is embedded in my soul. That means I now assume what I always did, the accountability of my work. This applies to me and you. Oh yeah, you don’t get off the hook that easy. I’ll do the grunt work like posting photos which includes time out on the street making them etc. See, not easy. It also means I will post my thoughts in text. I’m gonna make it easy for each and every one of you. If you like, just read and see the photos. I have to state, the photos mostly are not made to work with the word. The thing is that both photo and words are from me, so maybe that means something. Linda of the Legend of The Girl Child Linda tells me that my words are my work as well as my photos. It’s a novel idea and I will consider thinking about that. So, if’n you have the need to express yourself, please feel free to do so on the blog.
So, I will do my job but not only self-appointed for you but for me. I can’t stop making photos. It’s an addiction for many, many photographers. I don’t suffer from that addiction. For me it’s life.
Peace all…. seeya’s soon, I promise