Eye, Heart & Mind

June 27th, 2019 … Stop Running Away … From Being You

I remember back in 1975 I wanted a blad like crazy. Once I had the camera I was all proud and happy. I’d go to openings with my un-named blad on my shoulder, knowing I was someone. One day my friend Paul told me I wear the Blad like jewelry and don’t make photos with it. The truth was he was right. I had it at last but really didn’t use it. I was a street shooter and not a Blad dude. I felt that the camera would give me a signature or tone and it didn’t. I was really heartbroken.

Ya know, we can run like crazy from our gear, our PC’s, our thoughts and ideas but the important part is, you can’t run from yourself. It’s easy to think we can, just by ignoring the signals that come to us and yes, from us but the truth is, ya ain’t going nowhere. I remember the night I got my stage name. I was playing a gig at Cliff’s and we were heating it up. The audience was 90% black, don’t matter to me but I was the only white guy on stage. We cutting blues and everyone is really digging us. A woman halfway back in the seats stands up and says… that’s the Snowman, I know him he’s the Snowman. Gotta tell ya, I was on cloud 9. I mean people dancing and having a good time and I was driving them with my ax. I was the Snowman and would be forevermore. But, I was feeling things I wanted to say with my Strat that I didn’t know how to do it. Even tho the crowd was excited and loved us playing, I thought, there are 550 people out there loving all this, why can’t I love myself?

I had an opening at a MainStream Gallery in New Jersey. I had 50 prints of various sizes on the wall. As the evening progressed, may people cam to see the show. I was flattered that prints sold and was happy. It wasn’t about acceptance cause in photography, I am. We have like 60 people and the gallery director announces that I will be having a chat and question and answer in 10 min. Thanks for telling me. Her name is Diana and she’s an elderly lady with the elegance of a queen. Stunning and I am a working guy with a camera. She pulled me aside and in very clear words… Don, I adore you and I breathe your photos as well as but them. You must do this chat and do it well. I looked her in the eyes and I said, Diana, I got this, relax. I really was not uptight at all. I have my TONE intact and I can do this because I was placed on the earth to be a photographer. (if ya don’t pump yourself up, who will?)  There were many questions and even some discussions about gear. The press core was there and they threw a  question or 2 at me. I could look past the people and I saw Diana standing by herself in the white silk blouse. She had her hands clenched against her breast and I just looked at her and realized, she sees me clearer than I see myself. I answered many questions and explained many things the way I saw and felt them. I was not nervous not even 1 iota. For the first time in my life, I felt at one with myself. Ding had introduced me to Diana years before and now that his time had passed, I realized that Diana was my unspoken mentor and supporter.

Even today, when I visit Diana, she will take my face in her hands and kiss my eyes and tell me, the gift of humanity dwells inside you. Maybe she’s right, I mean I can’t understand all that I am or could be, no one can, right. It takes a gentle soul and a kindred spirit to recognize one another.

The key issue is to attempt at all cost to recognize oneself. It’s nice and even stimulating to be accepted into a community or group of other photographers. It’s flattering to know you are respected. There are keys to unlock those doors of acceptance. Such as Leica, many will acknowledge you because you have a Leica. Maybe it’s a Fuji or Nikon or Ricoh group. Maybe you are accepted because you shoot film and work in an analog manner. The list goes on and on. Let me tell you something. You can run away from many things in life, even death but you can never ever run away from yourself.

Time to man/woman up and face the facts, you are who you are and need to accept and love that person. If not, one day you’ll be playing a strat on stage and feel empty even as the crowd stands and calls your name.

 

June 24th, 2019 … Finding Your Way Thru The Mist of Your Creativity… Pt1

Did ya’s ever kinda sorta, maybe feel like your out of place? You don’t have to say anything. We can keep it a secret. Myself, I been feeling like that for as long as I can remember and I’m sure it goes back further than that. There’s not much ado to make yourself feel more at ease so, just accept it and get on with things. That’s what I try to do. Ya know, this will apply to your photos also. I know it seems hard to believe, but ye olde shooter knows something about this. What ya can’t do is surrender. There’s an energy that we can tap into that gives us stamina during the down times and we need to feed on that.

To be honest, I never ever felt lost, or even a lack of energy to work. That’s not the point. The point is I know many who have been in this situation or are even in it now. The best advice I could give is to, close the box with your photos or just don’t look at any photos you made. Just don’t keep any images available for viewing. Of course, if your really a shooter, those photos are in your head anyway. Just don’t think of them. It’s not like you can have a fresh start but you can have a start that’s not jaded with your photos.

We are creatures of habit. We get very comfy doing things that work over and over. I have talked about trigger mechanisms many times and If you think about this, your photos are trigger mechanisms. Yeah sure. See, you have these photos you really like and they become platforms for your creative mind. The photos of the past will drive the photos yet to be borne from you.

This is not like breaking a barrier. It’s more like being comfy on this side of the fence and wondering what’s on the other side. Don’t get me wrong. I am not an optimist. Many have told me thru the years that the grass is greener on the other side. Oh yeah, ya know why… cause there more BS there to fertilize. I’m talking about finding your way thru the mist of images you already have and trying to find the ones out there you haven’t discovered yet. Maybe this doesn’t seem important to you. Dunno but sure is to me and many I know.

I’ll do a series of articles and am open to offer my opinion on the comments page. Each post will address a certain are of creativity and the Dreaded BLOCK. Be blessed all and have a sweet photographic experience that lasts your lifetime.

June 11th, 2019 … Analyzing Intent … Soul Shooter … Pt 1

…. aight, so then what about intent? Who the heck invented that anyway … and then makes everyone, well many everyone’s but not all everyone’s but enough= everyone’s to question the intent of the intent makers intent. I ain’t one to rock the boat, too much. Been married way too long and too many divorces to do that. So, I know how to escape and get outside and go make photos by myself. Ahhh, so maybe, just maybe it’s crazy but maybe that there being by myself is the issue of intent.

One of the residents in my mind talks about the here and now. I tried to find him but he’s hiding and watching me make a fool of myself. I know this. If you’re being a fool and being that unknowingly, you’re a fool. If you’re being a fool and your fool intent is working, you may appear to be a fool but your not.

Here’s what it has to do with photography.

I say it applies to photography but actually, it’s a life lesson. Let’s just deal with the photography part and maybe address the other parts later.

We all know about the here and now. If you’re just joining us, go back and find the there and then. Study it and when you feel you are ready, join us in the here and now. What exactly is in the here and now? I know, I know we all been taught that if you’re there in the here and now, your in tune with life within and without you. (GH) But what exactly is this element that we become aware of? It’s not the camera unless you connect to it in a most elegant manner. Your clothes are present, the air you breathe, etc. the YOUR is part of the key.

We might say it;’s our persona or perhaps it’s like awareness of all and also forgetting that all. I’m sure all that counts in the total of our life’s existence. Go to a funeral or flashback to the one you went to and remember the words….” May his soul rest in peace, this could also be, May her soul rest in peace.” That’s it, not kidding… it’s that soul guy I’m chasing after. Soul woman whatever.

THE SOUL

I think most get it wrong. We figure that a camera is a tool I never felt that way. I always felt my camera was a partner in my work and maybe a soul mate. I name my cameras. It keeps me in touch with what I am responsibly doing. The real tools are not the camera by any means, it’s the eye, heart, and mind. See those 3 tools are keeping you alive and able to continue. So then, if we all accept that and I’m sure you will, what becomes the driving factor of those tools. Two things. The medical profession sucking all your money to keep those tool working and the other is, your soul to use and love those tools.

 

So, my belief is kinda distorted because life always has it’s own opinions and sets them to my mind.  Perhaps, I’m talking about religion and spirituality.  Religion equates to the camera brand you use. It’s the part of you to operate within a guideline of life experience, past and yet to be realized. We may all differ on brands. Spirituality is the source of commonality between us all. It’s the SOUL of living and the SOUL of photography. This is an inescapable truth.

The essence of your images is a direct result of the experiences of living and making photos.

 

The reason I write this stuff is partly that I find that there needs to be a connect with the world. We are apart. like it or not and that very statement conjures up the notion that we are responsible and accountable for our photos. We are not politicians that get to keep the buck and not be accountable for any wrong doing. We are humans with a camera and that means we are accountable to our selves, our work, and our subject matter.

Getting tired again. I need to rest but will continue this tomorrow.

Be blessed, my friends

 

 

 

 

 

The Weeds and the Flowers

 

April 14, 2019 … Ricoh GR III … Some Macro Mode Shots

 

So, it’s Sunday and I can’t get out too much because I have bites all over my right leg. Time for Neosporin. This also means that Tanmya is watching me like a hawk. I put Andre’ the Ricoh GR III in Macro mode. He focuses close in normal mode, that macro is out of focus because I am not close enough. Amazing. I don’t want to be that close but Andre’ insisted I either move him closer or back out and use regular focus mode. There is or should be an emotional impact on images. I mean that we sometimes use the magic of photography in a manner that gives more of a feel from the photo instead of the technical aspects. The flower above is straight from the DNG. The color trips me out. The softness, as if a woman, just is lovely. Nuff said.

 

The Ricoh GR III is made and designed to be an all-around companion. I am wearing a pocket tee shirt. Andre’ fits in the pocket safely. The GR II also fits in a tee shirt pocket but sticks out some and kinda nervous as it might fall out. The point is one could carry the GHR III in any pocket and it fits comfy. I know many of you don’t name your camera and I do feel bad for you. Photography for me is about love. I can’t seem to grasp making love with a woman and calling her it. Hmmm, I suppose not a good idea and certainly, disrespectful. Anyway, your choice but I will say the Ricoh cameras like to work with the shooter and having a name draws the entire process together. The shot above is DNG run thru Silver Efex. I use my presets there a lot.

 

All of these photos were shot in standard AF mode. I thought to try macro but can’t find anything that small that interest me enough to make a photo. I will venture into this deeper during the week. I love this camera as I love all my Ricoh’s. This one has mojo already for me and I don’t go too far without it with me. Tanya still will not have Andre’ the Ricoh GR III in bed with us.

Anyway, just a short post cause I love the garden photos I will make with Andre’.

Be Blessed on your Journey……..

 

March 9th, 2019 …. Observations … Things Are Not Always As They Appear … Dissecting Some Photos

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ok ok, I’m letting youse all have access to my inner self. Lately and many times before, I find myself observing myself observing. Let me clarify from the git-go…. I have a shrink. Why is this important? I don’t really know or even care about it. What I do care about is my photos and the driving inspiration for them. I’m walking around with Garry the Olympus Pen-F 20mm. Let me tell ya, not easy to top this outfit for the streets. I see these two in the window and they have a kinda snickering look about them. Some girls walk by, nadaa…a few guys walk by nada…. then as if the fairy from Mother Light sends her magic to the scene. Now, this may seem crazy but my instincts tell me, if nothing is on the right side of the frame, it’s a dead frame. Then, oh yeah, then a woman walks into the frame. She’s the complete opposite of the ladies in the window.

Now the next few seconds are extremely important to the life of the photo is made. The graphic elements (yes Olivier) are of course crucial and then the emotional aspects are also important. I’ll attempt to explain. The woman is moving from the right to the left side of the frame. The window gals are on the left side. This creates a very left weighted photo. Then as if MAGIC is happening, the guy in the reflection comes from the right and anchors that section…… but wait, oh yeah,,,, we need to breathe, See, if the walking woman reaches the black window divider, it’s all crapola. I  need the visual tension from her face to the black divider. That’s about the dynamics of the frame and the mechanics of the photo

Now, the emotional part. Our window ladies seem to be having a ball. So that creates a stance for the photo. Perhaps this will not be an easy juxtaposition. Sure, we could have anyone in the frame but the emotional impact needs to be very strong and obvious. Some things maintain their strength but just being. Oxymoron, Juxtaposition are 2 that happen to come to this photo. Ya know, maybe CONTRAST is very obvious too. So all these things and more are banging around my head and heart. This all happens in a fraction of a second… she’s walking, the window ladies are behaving themselves, or reflecting guy is happy and ….CLICK!

 

 

Mom, the Ricoh GRII and I are on our way to the VA Hospital. We are coming to the steps of the parking lot at the Frankford Transportation Terminal. As we walk down the steps, I see a woman hunched over and her leg on the angle. The light is really nice and creates a somber mood. I stick Mom the Ricoh GRII thru the fence to get the photo. As I do that, I take a deep breath and then realize that the fence is coming from inside her.  Most Mental Health issues, including PTSD, are felt by the person alone. There’s a feeling of not being able to escape the situation that is internalized. Then those feelings seem to manifest into the reality that takes over the mind. It feels like there’s no escape. The main issue is, the person going thru these episodes, gets to a point of no return and then doesn’t even care anymore. I’m looking with Mom and then, I see the frame and the fence and the woman….CLICK!

 

There’s a beauty in life as well as death. Suzanne asked me why I am attracted to posters and things of that nature. The beauty of photography is its ability to compress and abstract7 3-dimensional objects, people etc to a 2-dimensional state. We as photographers all know that but yet it’s not widely understood. What I am fascinated by the way photos to compress 3 dimensions into but more, I love the way 2-dimensional objects come to the photo. They are natural to photos and work well with 3-dimensional things.

For me, it’s magic and I work it constantly. Then when it’s ion my head as to the abstraction, I need the emotional content. This woman is the same as the guy is. Borth 2 dimensions and yet the emotional content, for me, makes the shot.

Mom and I walk around a lot together. I see this woman in the window and she captures me instantly…. there’s no reason to make a photo. Then, as I am flirting with her and she’s making that face…. this guy walks in front of the camera….I wait and he moves just a wee bit left and then looks at me dead on to the eyes. The photo is not working, I need her eyes, …then as if Hertzog directed him, he turns left as if on cue. I see the headphones and it immediately brings the relationship of the loneliness a woman has when she’s there and her man is listening to music and ignoring her….CLICK!

I will do this format for a while because some shooters have asked me to. I hope youse alls find this worth your time and it’s interesting.

Be Blessed, one and all…………. shooter out…………..

February 5th, 2019 … Once Upon a Dream

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I often talk about being in the moment. Ya know how the Inverse Square Law works. Less is More and More is Less. Well, I discovered that there is depth to the law. See, usually, I am deep inside things and that means it’s more complicated to be free of things. I like being deep in the stuff but there are times in my life that I want to just flow with the current and let it take me where it shall. This is one of those times.

Think about the contrast of life. Let’s just keep our eye, heart, and mind on the Inverse Square Law. If in fact, less is more and more is less, maybe we need heed the warning of Opposite Attraction. Photographically, it works like a magnet. They say opposites attract. Do they really and what does that mean to our shooters. If it’s always warm where you live, then a cold front or snap carries a lot of weight. It’s the living contrast that effects us.

Maybe you’re in the Southern States of The USA. You have beautiful sunny weather. You are walking around in shorts and a tee shirt. In a flash of a second, a Tornado or Hurricane comes and you don’t have a home anymore. Yout little dog is up there with Dorothy and her Red Slippers. I may be making light of the situation but it’s real and not at all funny. It’s the Opposite Attraction that is working.

We as shooters have similar situations. Think about Oxymorons in your work. Opposites. So, we go on in our comfort zone making photos. We even get people that like what we are doing. We feel safe and secure in our Eye, Hear and Mind. We don’t think about the hurricanes that disturb our vision and work. Just because we don’t think about those hurricanes, does not mean they aren’t resting and building energy to awake and add chaos to our sanity and vision.  Do we need to prepare for the approaching storm? I think not. It generated for us and generally is not as destructive and other things in our life.

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Well, Like finding our little dog up there with Dorothy. That’s an exercise in futility. We are creatures of habit. We are comfortable in repetition and strive to repeat results by working towards them. This means that perhaps, we carve out a set of guidelines or rules that we assume will give the desired result, that we are comfy with. Generally speaking, the satisfaction of producing acceptable work to others and to ourselves.

I think part of the human condition is, taking things for granted. I’m not a religious man. I mean, I lost my religion in Vietnam in 1970. I feel I have violated the WORD of the LORD and am not worthy of the benefits of being religious. Decades ago, I went to a Catholic Priest for guidance. We chatted a few times and I felt like a man he was understanding. He never passed judgment on me. A short time later, I went to see a Rabbi. His father lived in the home also.  His father was also a Rabbi and was about 86 when I met him. I asked simply if I could deal with the father. It was agreed upon. As the 3rd session was ending I felt some relief but still this feeling of guilt and aloneness. The old Rabbi told me, “Don, there are many ways to live your life. You should just be Spiritual and not worry about the Dogma of Religion. Don’t take this guilt with you to your death bed. Go with a clean heart and soul. Life has passed judgment on you, not GOD. You can’t control what happens with your death but you can with your life.”

So, it’s important to be in the here and now, we all agree on that. But if you’re always in the here and now, then how to appreciate it and how not to become complacent? We need the contrast in life to appreciate what we have and what we don’t have. To be in the here and now, does that imply being not in the here and now is the opposite?

Let’s say that we are working on a series of photos of reflections. What seems to take place, is….when a shot develops and it’s a reflection, we think it suites our series. It’s a nice filling feeling. Self-accomplishment. What of the photos that are not reflections. What happens to the series and what7 about the anti-series photos.

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Decades ago, I used to lay out photos like a scrabble board. Visualize the horizontal line of photos and it’s about 8 images.  Of course, the photos need to be related, not just related by nature but by intent. Now you bring photos to the layout and then you see, that there is a photo that relates well to one image but not really to the series laid out. You place that on the line going horizontally to the photo it relates too. After doing this, you see this like a scrabble board and your photos are the tiles.

If you try this, you’ll see that opposites really do attract. The series is well defined and the photos spawned off the main line leads to new directions. They appear to be opposite of the main series but are they really?

As photographers, we depend on sets of constants. It’s difficult to work off the normal comfy places in our hear and hearts. As creatures of habit, we tend to dismiss anything out of our norm. I am told by my mind, that I haven’t finished this exercise. I will write more thoughts shortly

… to be cont’d …

November 24th, 2018 … Sometimes I get it right

When looking for photographs, find them in your heart, then bring them to your camera. The rest is photography. 

 

Simple words but to live by them is a lifetime of work. I taught myself many years ago to trust my heart above my mind. I mean we need to trust our mind and I do but there is a stronger satisfaction from images from the heart than from the mind. See, I spend a lot of time working and always did. I can remember some photos that I thought about and made. I remember photos that I felt and made. I know many will say I am missing the boat cause ideally, the photos should come from the Mind and Heart. Well, for me there is a distinct difference between the two. I like the split because I analyze my work in a way the lets me separate and join together the mind and heart. I suppose it’s ideal to have both work together but I like to think that the difference between the two makes for a strong understanding of the images.

Way back in the early 1970s, I did an experiment. I spent time making photos of my wife and kids. I felt these photos very strong and I was very excited by the photos. Then I went to the streets and made photos that I thought about. What I mean is, I had ideas of photos and wanted to make them so I could see my ideas come to fruit. Many of the photos from both groups we very exciting and satisfied my curiosity.  But the experiment was more intense. I wanted, no needed to see which if any of the photos rang truer than others. The net result of this experiment was actually learning to accept the images and how they affect my work and how they affect my future work.

Editing and curating your own work is a lesson in ego washing. Ideally, you put a lot of images in the mix and then doing the job of editing to get the final residue and gist of your work. Sounds easy enough but we need to realize that what we are doing is bringing others to the life of our work. They become a part of our mix. I have edited many photos from many people for the Inspired Eye and other duties for the images. There is a manner of approach to viewing and even making photos. The “WHY” and the “HOW” are essential and understanding the difference is crucial to success. The key factor of the how and why is to get how the shooter thinks and or feels. Years ago going to exhibitions and gallery openings, I would look at the photos and try to feel them as if the shooter made them for me. I loved when I connected to an image. Made me feel like I knew something. Secretly inside and never brought to the surface, I asked how the shooter made the photos. I was interested in what camera, what lens, what film, how they processed, everything about the blood and veins of the photo. I was not an academic and had little or no training in photography. I felt often like an outsider but my lust for life with my camera superseded any feelings of self-worth.

 

I’m not being self-indulgent here. I had to figure this stuff out mainly by myself and then let it grow inside me so it was a part and is a part of my existence. If I was an academic then this stuff would be in me and be proper. So I try to explain how I think and feel about things best I can at the moment. I’m editing and curating an exhibition for a woman shooter. She is very talented and yet I feel something missing from the photos. Emotionally they are very strong but they lack interesting eye travel. Her heart is intact and she makes the subject appear with the viewer. The photos lack a sense of environmental presence. Even Avedon with his corner portraits has a very strong sense of environment. The lack of environmental info is also the presence of environmental info.

I am caught in a conundrum about her exhibition. If I say anything at this time about the photos having an emotional stance but lacking in the rest of the frame, she will be very upset and well she should be. If I just let this go and she does the exhibition, some viewers will feel the lack of supporting energy and she will be upset because I didn’t express my thoughts before she was hanging naked on the wall.

So it appears the life force of the Heart and Mind exist in a very strong manner, and we must deal with it even if we don’t’ understand or accept it.

August 1st, 2018 … How to See a Horse

Ya know that rule about eye contact, being most important? Well, I was never one to follow rules too closely. Not that there’s anything wrong with it but sometimes I like my photos to just be observed. See the girl up above, yeah, the one in the white dress? Well, if I waited a fraction of a second, we would be locked in the eyes. I anticipated that and released before that happened. Why? Well, she’s got that mask thing on, she’s all alone in her world and I just observed her and made the photo. I suppose it’s not really like a detachment. I mean if she’s in her world and I’m in mine and I make a photo of her, am I intruding on and in her world.  Stuff like this haunts me all the time because i never really get an answer that fully answers the question once and for all.

Did you ever analyze your subject matter?  Did ya ever question why certain things turn you on and other things, ya don’t give a hoot about? Sounds like childs play and maybe ya think it is but I tellya, these are life altering questions. I think the way to work this is to anylize your images and find a common denometer that inks them.  OK, shhhhhhh… we are all serious about photography and our lives, granted. If you haphazzardly spread this stuff around, next thing ya know, the one you kinda donr’t really care about,  well that one will end up in a Museum and you’ll have to pay to see the work. So we keep this under wraps and even Mueller can’t figure this out.

The novice would think we are talking about trigger mechanisms. We are in a way but it don’t weigh enuff. We all know that the trigger mechanism lives inside the photo and perhaps that made us click the shutter. Hold on folks, just a min….I am losing myself. da da la de da… there I am…  See, the difference is this….subject matter is already a choice that sleeps in your eye, heart and mind. Your job and the job of your Named camera, is to respond to outside stimulus and then and only then let the trigger set the shutter for the photo.  So I think where we need to get clarity, and I speak, no…sorry I write about this because there seems to be a bit of confusion on the area of photography.

Probably most of us can anaylize our intent ansd subject matter.  It’s like this. If we look at a horse long enough, we still see a horse. Walk around like those blind Priest and the elephant. No matter what you do, you will see a horse. Partially because we are programed to see things and apply tags to them quickly. So, a horse is a horse of course a horse will always be a horse, of course. If you don’t believe me ask Mr Ed. Ya don’t trust a horse, ask Wilber. See, our mind as powerful as it is, has preconceptions and other things in there to boggle it. If we look at a horse and see a horse, we fit in to the mass of society and we never need think any different. We are in the safety zone of no questions and need no answers. It’s acceptable and down right proper. What’s my point? ok…..

As a photographer, wait… as an inhabitant of this planet we all love and destroy together it’s socially and photographically to see a horse as a horse. BUTT!

When I see a horse, I want to know it’s name. I love the brown coat and the way he stands, so proud, even while making a dumping. I love the white patch that he has between the eyes. I wonder if he’s married and even has kids. I wonder what the horse is thinking about as he looks at me. I think his name is Ralph, Ralph the horse. So noble. Why on earth would anyone just see a horse? Hold on now. This might be crazy and from me, youse know it could be. Wait a darn minute. I just had a brain, ummm well… thought. Not very often but i learned to pay attention.

What if and I know this is a stretch, what would happen if we all looked at our subject matter and didn’t just see a horse?  What if we really tried to feel our subject matter from our Eye, Heart and Mind? What if Edmund Bacon was right? What if we looked at our scenes on the streets and the people being affected and affecting the environment. What if we didn’t see a horse at all and we just saw Ralph the horse that is smarter than I?

If we get bold enough, nah… what if I get bold enough and go out with Andre’ the Leica M240 and look for photos and break the patterns of thoughts and emotions and seek to find out there what dwells in me.

July 29th, 2018 … Edmund Bacon … The Haunting … The Peace

There are times I’d like to be alone on the streets working. I don’t mean the civilians out there, I mean the ones in my heart and mind. I appreciate the company but they are not benign forces of energy. One such case is Edmund Bacon.

I suppose I should backtrack a little, well more than a little. I was working on a project of making portraits of American artist. Things were going along well, and one day one of the directors of the AIA  (American Institute of Architects) said I should do many of the architects ans other interesting people. On the list was Edmund Bacon.

So I finally got up the nerve and called Edmund. He invited me down to his home on Locust Street. We sat on these chairs made by an artist but I don’t remember the name. He invited me up to his library. He showed me these big blue books. He had the plans for City Hall, the Expressway, Logan Circle, The Acrch in Paris, something from London etc. Ed was explaining to me that people need to learn to adapt and learn to live in the environment and not adapt the environment to people.

Gimme a few and I’ll explain how photography is linked to this. Anyway Ed and I spent time together and sent info back and forth between us. (My ex wife Deb was with me most times and was a big help. That was then and this is now)  Ed asked me to do a project with him. It was to make a book called. “The Murder Of The Little Stream”.  We made 2 copies and I have one. No idea about the other.  WE would walk thru center city and he would show me places he designed, like Three Bears Park. I would make snaps with Andre’ the Leica M4. One day he said to me, your a great photographer but why do you never look up? I didn’t really have a good solid answer so I just said, I didn’t know there was an up.

See the buildings Don, the way they cut the sky. See the way they work together in shapes and the reflectance of light.  Look at the shades of black and gray and light tone. See the way the color works or opposes each other. See the telling of time. Some are many years old and some are young. See the difference in building materials. The windows Don, amazing how there are so many and many different shapes and styles and functions.

Ed was gracious with his patience and time with me. He looked at many of my photos and told me that the way I incorporated the environment with the people was exactly what he felt good art should do. I was nothing less than flattered. Ed had a way of explaining things that he helped extract from my mind that some was in there.  What he said was that if a teacher teaches with the idea that the student is blank, then the teacher is reinforcing the absence of knowledge.  If on the other hand the teacher teaches the student and the student realizes that they in some way know some of the info, the student applies their mind to extract the info.  This makes the student work and not feel like a tomato brain.

What could I learn from a world reknowed City Planner? Ya know I wondered about that as I walked around making photos. Funny, sometimes I’d look up at buildings and  the way they and people interact together. Don’t call me crazy if you see me stand next to a building, close my eyes and place my hand against it. Yea, yea, I bet you didn’t know that buildings talk. If you close your eyes and place a hand on a wall, you can hear and feel the energy talking to you. Bullcrap right? It’s ok, scientist detect earthquakes the same way.

There was a lot more in our time together. I’m not gonna mention Nancy Grace fro US Steel or the Compass Rose in the very center of Phila. No, you won’t get that from me. And don’t think for a moment that when Ed told me about Kevin’s Movie “Murder In The First Degree” that he cried cause he felt his son so completely invested in the movie. I’m not telling you that.

I used to walk alone amongst the civilians and make photos. Now I don’t feel alone anymore and I feel my place in the microcosm of the city. I’m an observer with a camera not alone at all but a part of life and a part of the scenes that I m attracted to. We become a total of the growing input of love and hate and knowledge that out friends and family and the world send to us.

I speak of the Moment and the here and now and it’s a life long quest to be there. Ed taught me something so much more important. Ed taught me to be in the moment of the here and now but with everything and everyone with me. Even if you don’t pay attention to it or them, they all deserve equal illumination.

Remember George Harrison   Life goes on within and without you.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Bacon_(architect)

 

June 10th, 2018 … Thoughts on Seeing … Inside and Out … Lesson from Minor White

There are a few ways to see photographically. I’m just gonna touch on a few of the most important that I know.  So shall we break this down to:

Seeing the reality in front of us … or seeing the reality in our mind. They are not one and the same and no camera ever invented can join or translate the two and get the desired result.  So, what becomes the issue for us as shooters? I can speak for me and I see things kinda like this.

If I get an idea in my mind and wish to make it come to birth as a print, (I use that term loosely) … it could be said that I had a pre-visualization.  Ansel had a method of pre-visualization that back in the 60’s and 70’s served to isolate most large format shooters from small camera shooters. The idea was to tune everything you know at the precise moment of exposure, how the end result would be. You could see  the image in your mind’s eye and you worked methodically to make the image as visualized in the mind. I did all that. I got everything so precise that it became routine for me to make photos. Remember that song, “Along comes Mary”?

Well along comes Minor. I went to a workshop with a friend and ya know, it was cool. I was still under the mental and emotional influence of Nam. At that point in my life, I didn’t really care about too much. Minor was leaning back on a tree and a few gutsy people sat around him. He had a presence about him that was very spiritual. I am pre-visualizing about photos of Minor and just letting my mind take hold of the situation. A young woman came over and told everyone that a class was getting ready to start. Everyone but Minor went to the class. Minor leaned back against the tree and I stood there just looking around. It was just the 2 of us there. I looked at Minor with respect and a kind of reverence but no fear. I would never no fear my entire life to this very moment. I remember Ding showing me Minor’s works and he had a kind of stillness about him. It was like Ding felt he was in the presence of something otherworldly and he passed that on to me. Ding asked me how I felt about Minor’s works and I said, it’s like Minor’s images are from a place inside him that he taps into. He has a resevour of energy and love and is capable of making the images with that source instilled in them. Ding patted  me on the back and I immediately understood that the sourse was Minor’s heart.

Minor asked me to sit and we started to talk. He asked me”How’s life”? I told him I left it in Nam. That was a gateway answer. We started talking about the military and he wanted to know about every second of my experience in Nam. His eyes peirced my soul with intensity. Then I directed the conversation to photography. I said, Minor, I’d really like to talk just about photography. He said I thought that’s what we were doing. (ya ever see a dog look at you and tilt his head from side to side? that’s what was happening to my mind.) Minor said, what do you think photography is? I couldn’t answer. He told me, from this moment on, photography is about your life. It’s about some people that read you and understand you. You have to find the photos that you believe in. Many won’t cut the grade but regardless, they are all from your heart. In time, hopefully, you will learn to see from the heart and see from the mind and then to understand the difference. Minor said Ansel made photos that were representative of the subject matter. This is natural because he captured the beauty of the natural landscape. Steiglitz made photos that were representational and also that were as he called them, equivalents. I see making photographs as making them for their own value. For me, the photograph is it’s own life, separate from the subject matter. It is it’s own personal reality.

I told him I was an advocate for Ansel’s Zone System. He smiled. He asked me if I liked working so methodically and pre-planned. I said I didn’t really know another way to think and work. He looked at me like I imagine an Angel would look at me. Really seeing my heart and total worth as a human. Then he grabbed my head and shook it and said dump all that shit in there down the toilet. I was at a loss. He then placed his hand on my chest over my heart and told me, that is all that matters. I told him I didn’t really understand. Minor said you can think your way thru life and maybe find a rewarding end. You can FEEL your way thru life and then, there is no question. The answer you seek will be in the images that you Felt with your heart. That I understood. I never saw Minor again but he’s got a space in my heart and mind for all time.

Interlude, The Portrait

I asked Minor if I could make a portrait of him. He agreed but said he had one stipulation. That was that, I never show the photo to anyone, ever. I took that lightly and made the portrait. I used a 4×5 and processed the negative. When it was dry, I showed it to him. He loved it and said, you caught me. I was proud. Then he said, we have a pact together correct? I looked him in the eyes and immediately understood the intent, in a way I never did before.  I told him I will never ever show the portrait to anyone. As I was bgetting ready to drive back to Philly, Minor took my hand in his and grasped it between both his hands. He said, I hope you find peace in this world. My dad died when I was 6 years old. I kinda felt that Minor had some of him inside him. It was like I had tears fom my heart and Minor found a way to let me cry without anyone else knowing. We did our farewells and the last words he said to me was…”The Pact”.

The reason I told ya’s about this is: I became acutely aware of the word INTENT and some intrusions on it. In my mind, there exists a difference between B&W and Color. Not just in the spelling of the words but the real meaning associated with each. I suppose I have adopted and implemented the B&W in my work. I was never really attracted to color and maybe there are some reasons not entirely my own. None the less, I have lived other shooters ideas about things and made some of that my own. Remember Minor telling me about the HEART? Well, I didn’t always pay attention but something was brewing inside It wasn’t a craft beer either. I started to wonder about the photos from my mind’s eye and the photos from my heart. The real issue I wanted to discover was the actual combination photos of the mind and heart. Was I perceptive enough to spot anything remotely associated with either? I asked that question over 45 years and never understood the answer clearly. What I taught in class was…..when viewing your photos, can you recall the precise moment of release and all that was there with you at that time? See, there are many things to confuse the intent of your heart and or mind. See how I went right into color vs b&w, without notice? Well, that’s how it works. Exterior stimulus with effect the inner workings of out heart and mind. We need to have the knowledge that something is happening here, what it is isn’t exactly clear.

Ya know about those pre-conceptions I mentioned? Well, they don’t come from you, they come to you. They instill their rubbish into your heart and your work. They are the poison that others send to you and … us, without the ability to stand for and with our work, will fall prey to the effects of those preconceptions. Is this heavy doo doo? sure it it so get your camera and get your butt out there and make photos. Just stay focused on the 2 main ways of seeing, The Heart and The Mind.

Ya know, maybe it’s also about working for you or for them…hmmmm

… with an open heart and an open mind. I always believed and taught this concept. It’s actually the sword to carry thru life. Afterall, basically, it covers any situation you may come across.