Tag Archives: Philosphy

June 26th, 2019 … The Tones da Thang

I started playing guitar at 13. Seems my dad played and he also was an amateur photographer. He died when I was 6 so, not many memories but enough for me to find him at the end of my tour. Anyway, I am aware that I followed in his footsteps without really seeing those footsteps. After a short time, I fell in love with the guitar and played all my life. When I got home from Nam, I started to get serious with it because I could hide inside it and keep my thoughts and emotions hidden from my family. I started to get pretty good at blues and loved playing but unfortunately, I didn’t have a voice for singing. That took a toll on me that to this day has affected me. As time passed, I was in many bands and really loved the interaction. We recorded and did gigs and concerts and it was a dream come true. Inside there was a block of ice in me that I couldn’t chip away. On the outside, I appeared happy and content and loved what was happening. Inside, another story had developed.

Tone Is Da Thang

See, your tone is your signature. It’s what makes your soul sing and dance. No 2 people have the same tone. I could hear anyone that had their tone so clearly and loved listening to them. The issue was I never found my tone. Oh, I could hear it inside but whenever I tried to get it out, failure. I bought more effects than I would ever need. I had the sounds that many liked but I did not love it because I knew I didn’t have the tone. I had no signature tone. There was an emptiness in my soul that never was satisfied. Decades passed and still, I was just like everyone else without tone. Empty with all the gear to make it happen but no stamina to pursue it.

My body started developing  Essential tremors and that put an end to my guitar playing. Of course, I’d have a heck of a vibrato but I can’t grip the neck without some pains. My fav guitars hang on the wall and I look at them all the time. That part of my life has passed and it saddens me but I continue to have great memories.

So, what’s this to do with photography? Maybe there’s something like the tone in photos. I don’t mean color tone, but TONE. It’s borrowed from guitar playing. This is not a new question for me but one that seeks an answer for decades. Ding told me long, long ago that he felt I had much raw potential. He was upset to learn that I could not afford to go to any college. So Ding rethought his approach to me and told me, “The most important things you need to learn are, to recognize your successes and recognize your failures”. This, of course, means to, define success and define failure and have a concrete understanding of both.

So the way I define these two polar opposites is by the tone of the photo.  This became a very difficult way to work because I have stripped away the innocence of photography. I had assigned a meaning to the photos that maybe I didn’t fully understand. I felt that when a collector or gallery whatever, bought some photos, they were a success. I guess there were but I quickly realized, I didn’t give a hoot for the financial profits.

Eureka, Ding was right. I have finally started on the path of self-discovery thru my photography.  The tone of the photos was clear as the light on the moon. The key issue with that is, I maybe never made a bad photo and maybe made many good photos but the ones that sing for me are the ones that have the tone I can’t ever hear or find on my guitars. I just see it. So, it becomes more a question of what brings joy to one’s life. Sure, it’s great to make those photos that are just outstanding to one’s self. Perhaps what needs to be learned and practiced is to love what you are doing and not to make things simple or decrease the value of intent but to find the joy with a camera and if you get that great shot, fine if not, at least love what you are doing.

It’s important to strive for personal satisfaction but to only reach for that means if a photo doesn’t make the cut, then you start to live with resentment. You have no right to make photography a passion of resentment. It’s totally unacceptable and can’t be allowed to control any part of you. If resentment and failure plague you and your work, it’s you, not photography that has the issues.

Maybe I’m getting too personal here but truthfully, I don’t know how to be any other way.

Have a blessed day and good light to one and all….♥♥

May 14th, 2019 … Thinking vs Not Thinking … Are They The Same?

Accountability is the course for me. When I’m making photos, I am inspired by the simple fact that I was awake in the here and now making the photo. It gives me satisfaction and proof when I view the photos now and later. I’m not implying that anyone needs to follow in this manner. I can’t promise I will myself, and stay subject to change if needed or not needed. But on the issue of conscious accountability, this is it for me.

Giovanni stated in a chat we had, that he prefers to not think at all. I get that for real but I wonder if, in fact, that nonthinking state of working is any different than a thinking state of working? The old saying of “The proof is in the pudding” and it’s perfectly true. The thing is, there are many flavors and textures and taste of the pudding. So we all have the given right to choose and use the pudding of our choice. Do we taste our pudding as well as look at it and find it appealing? How about the scent? All these things and more come into play but are they conscious things or unconscious things and perhaps, crazy as it seems… a combination of all things.

What I find inspiring and exciting is, viewing my photos and that they in a way, draw me back to the experience of life. The experience of the moment of exposure. I think it’s more than the Decisive Moment, it’s more something of reinforcing the memory of life. Proof that I was there. So on the one hand that is very sweet and loving. On the other hand, it goes against the very essence of photography as I live it.  The photograph should live on its own merit and not have to draw upon the 3-dimensional reality for its value and existence. Perhaps this is not the only truth of photography. I mean, of course, memories are crucial to life and the validation of photography but the fact is, the photograph really is just a catalyst or tool to conjure up the lost memory or is it?

What about when you just want to work for the sake of saving your soul. I mean as art artform, (Stieglitz not so happy now) … Is the process the same for making photos as an extension of your soul as it is as a keeper of the memory. seems to me that making a conscious memory is a very important process. I never thought about just having a lackadaisical approach in making a memory.   I always tried to capture the best version of what or whom I was working with. We need to be awake and aware of the process and all of it’s intent before, during and after the exposure. We should desire to make the photo memory be all that it can be without the intrusion of anything in the way.

 

This has mostly been the Professional approach to making photos. It certainly requires attention and the absolute awareness of the shooter’s presence. There is a nobility in the very act of making photos. The usual situation of working for someone, money or not, requires a 100% concentration and awareness of being in the here and now. You need to satisfy the needs of your client, This is first and foremost. So that approach can and is applied to working for yourself. ultimately, working for ourselves is the step to working for a client. The pro shooter commits his/her vision to the project and makes the photos for the intent of the project.  (I am going to use a suggestive word and it applies to my thoughts even if it’s a stretch. The Personal Shooter.) The personal shooter has him/herself as a client. The photos made are for individual intent.

So in this stance, perhaps it’s ok to adopt a few ways of working. As Giovanni stated, he doesn’t want to think about things, just make his photos. I agree that this is a noble way to work and very fulfilling.  Maybe working that way has defined accountability but I like clarity. I’m not saying Giovanni does not like clarity, I’m merely stating that I like clarity during the process.  For me, there is elegant freedom walking around with my camera friend making photos and being in the here and now, regardless of where it is.

I believe in the principle of the Inverse Square Law. More is less and less is more. I see it like this. The more awareness I have the greater the freedom is born. I have very few intrusions.

The less aware I am of process, the more intrusions present themselves.  I don’t know anything as a landmark for reality. This I do know cause I live it.

When I was young, I was taught that a photograph speaks 1000 words. As I grew older, not so much wiser, I found that a photo spoke less than 1000 words. As time passed, I realize that my photos maybe speak a half dozen words and that’s given a stretch. I guess it’s that Inverse Square Law that has haunted my very essence for all my life. I view my photos and words lose meaning and become cloudy as the photos are borne.

There is a saying by a Doctor Murray Banks, It goes like this. “As you go through your life brother, whatever be your goal. Keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole.

Be Blessed one and all.  Namaste’

 

 

 

 

 

April 10th, 2019 … More Than A Shot … More Than a Day … Ricoh GR III … Fuji X-Pro2

The day came and went and I was Minus my Leica M240 and a few Zeiss lenses. The camera is, of course, joy and actually a great camera to slow down and FEEL what you are doing. See, it’s that feel thing that got me. Great camera, no issues but too damn heavy for me. I could not use a neck strap. I could not use my ACAM 25 in any mode. You would think that cross shoulder would work but nada.  So I sold it to a camera store and got a fair price. What does this have to do with anything shooter? Get to the point old man.

I mean for me my cameras are friends with names. I can’t deal with nor have I ever had tolerance for camera intrusion. The intrusion in Leica is the weight. Ohhhh, wait, wait…. Leica isn’t the only camera that intrudes. Andre’ the Ricoh GR III intrudes with his stupid OK button. What happens is, hit the ok button by accident and you could move the AF point. Yes, if you’re in the right mode, you can hold down the OK button and the AF Point centers home. Fuji has that and on my X-Pro2, it can be and is locked. Can’t be locked on the Ricoh GR III that I know of. Maybe it seems trite but when you’re out working and the AF Point is dow lower left and you’re making a photo, your focus point is wrong. Nice huh. The Ricoh Engineers bumbled this big time.

Also, the wheel has a sense of humor and you can change EV unknowingly. Here’s the thing. I’m talking about a camera becoming a friend and getting a name and not intruding in our vision we share together. Unacceptable for me.

If your fiddling with a camera, how ya gonna find and make your photos?  Not easy.

The most important thing I discovered as a photographer, and perhaps as a human, is Complacency.  See the photo above. I have worked these posters etc and never tire of them. So what does this really mean? It is a fact that the habits of all sorts are easy to get hooked into. Usually, we don’t even notice we have a habit. As a shooter, it’s very easy to get a habit going. Does that make the work complacent? I think it could, depending on one’s outlook and approach. The battle in your work and mine too is to enjoy a particular scene and then to deal with it. For this means to be non-complacent. I enjoy revisiting a scene and then getting my juices to accept an alternative outcome from what I already have. It’s great to travel around the world and see new sites and meet new people all the time. I’m sure most of you do that on a regular basis. Well, here in NE Philly I don’t get to do that. What I do get to do is work areas that I have worked many many times.

 

Here’s where the battle of complacency takes place. Let me tell ya something. What to watch out for is what you don’t pay attention to. Did ya’s ever heard the expression “The little things are what get’s ya”? It’s true and even more so with us shooters. Those little things get ya cause ya don’t even know they are with ya.  Our mind seems to create a buffering system to either negate or just disregard the little things. That don’t mean they aren’t there.

Most definitely it means not to get complacent with the little things. Ya know, I think we shouldn’t get complacent with the big things either and for all that matters with anything. Remember this … Ya can’t see something as new if ya have seen it before. Maybe if your good, and I know a few of ya’s are that good but mostly just not as good but trying to be good…. ya can try to see things differently. This is where your creative talent and or energy comes to play.

 

 

There are times when I’m working that I feel like a Zen has formed an invisible cloak around me and tries to keep me inside this cloak and be focused. I know this is meant as a great thing but maybe sometimes I get complacent with Zen. I mean doing something over and over and allowing it to go to a state of being and feeling all is right, this can get complacent also.

I like to stretch my envelope but not get crazy with it. I’m too old and they all told me years ago ya can’t teach an old dog new tricks. So, now as an old dog, I am pre-programmed to not try new thing easily.

 

 

So, for me the inspiring energy has always been, to work where you live. See, I been the Philly Streetshooter since  1070″s. I want to say that it has been a struggle for me to make photos. I want to say that I get bored and need to be in an exotic location to get my juices flowing.  If I said all that and more, it could not be true no matter how convincing I was. See, I have never known a day that I was not hungry to make photos. I have never been bored or even complacent with any part of the process.

The way to maintain this attitude is to spend $1000.00 every month on a new camera. Don’t use any other camera for a month and then buy another one in a month. Wait, wait…. that’s bulldinky shooter. Get real again.

Ok, my flight is landing and I’m adjusting to being partially sane again.  Look, here it is in a nutshell. You can buy all the cameras and gear and everything you desire. You’ll be happy for a brief period of time.. The wondrous thing in life is LOVE. I love photography and everything about it. I suppose that’s what keeps it all interesting and keeps it vitally alive for me. I love it all.

Some shooters asked me about the Ricoh GR III. Ok, I have an ACMAXX screen saver on the screen. I have a Tamrac 5217 case that has a strap I cut off and just use it on my belt. Small. I got two Kastar batteries from, eBay and the price was $9.00 for both including shipping. They work like OEM.

I’ll get more focused in the next few dazes and do mostly Ricoh GR III. work.

 

 

February 23rd, 2019 … Take It To Another Place … The Spirit, Not … The Religion of Photography

… ok, ok I know I’m a bad student and a bad disciple of anything. I have taught or suggested for years about the here and now.  I still believe that and still live, practice and teach that.

It was early in 1970, Chu Lai … Vietnam. We were working with some ARVN’s … The Army Republic of Vietnam. I became friends with an older man named Chin. He was a photographer for his Army and I was a grunt with a camera. We had photography in common.  When we were taking a break or just downtime, Chin would lay on the ground and close his eyes.

He wouldn’t move a muscle. I sometimes watched him and wondered what he was doing. One day I asked him and he said he was meditating. I asked, What is meditating? Chin asked me to sit and he explained. He said for him, he would meditate to leave the state of being he is in and place his heat and mind in a more tranquil place. To take it to another place. 

Chin died in October 1970. I took a photo from his pocket and it was a photo of his wife and son. That photo took Chin to another place. I still have it, bloodstained and all.

A few years later, my Brother took me to Lorimer Park. We climbed up the hill made of boulders and when we reached the top, we sat. He wanted to teach me meditation. I felt that he knew my soul was tormented and needed a way to escape. I didn’t press the issue but was very suicidal and maybe he sensed that. Maybe he still does.

Jerry had me close my eyes and breathe deep but natural. He told me to listen to the sounds around me. Well, there are many people doing many things and I can hear most. Then he said, listen to the water trailing down behind us. I didn’t hear any water. Lots of things but not, water. We left and just relaxed on the way home. A few days later, we went back and Jerry told me to just filter. I tried to grasp the concept but try as I may, I could not hear the water. I wasn’t frustrated as I also knew I lost a good percentage of my hearing in Nam. To this day, I still have not found anything lost in Nam, nothing.

I thought back about Chin. The way he tried to teach me a way to escape the moment and take it to another place. Was meditation with my brother the same or similar thing?

Ding McNulty had a way with me that is still working. He presented things and concepts to me and had a manner that got them in my head and heart, without realizing I ever adopted it. Chin, my brother Jerry, Ding all had a way to get me to take things to another place. It’s all a good way to escape the moment.

Well, for me, it’s all nice and I appreciate it all but it’s not how I live my life. My photography dictates that I be aware in the Here and Now. The reason for naming my camera is to have it be a catalyst for my work.  If I’m working with Mom the Ricoh GRII, I am in the here and now. I don’t want to take anything to another place. I want to deal with what’s going on in and around me first hand. Photography is my meditation. It is the single device that connects me with the here and now. I walk, I see a scene and make an exposure. I saw in 3-dimensional reality the trigger for the transformation that I search for in 2-dimensional reality, or called LightRoom.  The finished photo becomes a statement of my experience in that here and now. It’s a metaphor for my emotions and thoughts. It does not take me to another place nor do I want it to. It keeps me focused and aware and aware of my existence with a camera. Perhaps for me, photography is the greatest meditation in my life.

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Life becomes a beautiful mystery. We as photographers have the gift to see and make photos of the little mysteries. Meditation is not where you go or what you do. True meditation is how you live and how you reflect upon the life you live. It’s not where you try to go or place thoughts and emotions to another place. The gift is to be able to be aware and accept the mysteries of your life and live and love it in your here and now.

For men, the greatest mystery of all is…. how does your wife like your cooking?

 

 

January 30th, 2019 …. Re-Experiencing the Experience … Other Thoughts Too

There are times that I make a photo and it does more than the others. what I mean is, there’s certain energy the photos pass on and shares with me. Sometimes this energy is subdued and not calling out for attention. Other times, there’s a reverberation inside that conjures up memories and just keeps resurfacing over and over. We all do self-portraits in one manner or another. But there are some photos that conjure up messages that we may or may not want to deal with.

It was 1978 and I was in our bedroom and wanted to make a self-portrait. I was wearing boxer shorts and that’s it. I was using a 50mm Cron, early version. Anyway, I was framing the photo, similar to the one above. As I raised the camera to my eye, on the ready….my son2 years old popped his head up from behind the bed. I did not see him. I framed and made the exposure. 3-4 days later the roll was filled and time to make negatives. My fav part of the darkroom. I processed the film and decided to print a few negs. I put the self-portrait in the enlarger and looked at the image on the easel. I decided that an 8″ x 12″ was the right size. I slipped in a sheet of strips to get a basic exposure and then put in a sheet of Portriga Rapid. I made the exposure and developed it and when it was in the fix, I noticed my son Paul’s head on the corner of the bed, peering out to me. I thought the photo was funny and move to another negative. When I took the strip of negs out of the Leica Enlarger, it fell out of my hand onto the floor.

I couldn’t see it so moved around and got safe for white light. I looked down for the strip and low and behold, I had accidentally stood on it. I picked it up and it was destroyed beyond repair. I knew at that instant that this was the only print to ever be born from this negative.

I took Andre’ the Leica M240 and went into the bedroom. I saw the light come thru the curtains and the frame starts to form. I looked around and realized I made a similar photo 41 years ago. I had the feeling of energy reverberating and memories gallop thru my mind. I raised Andre and got ready and made the photo.

I miss my son Paul.

So I often wonder what the trigger is for the inspiration in making photos. I_ mean of course I know most of my triggers but the thing is, where do they come from and why? See, I believe making photos is more than pointing the camera and clicking. There’s an internal release and an external release. They each have a target of intent. Together, they make the moment of the experience happen. Apart and you’re just taking pictures. There are a time and place or making and talking and it’s only important if you understand the difference. If not, maybe you’re the lucky one, just go about freely and take as many pictures as you feel. Not a whole lot of accountability but some need to be that way. Looks around the room carefully and makes sure none of those people are here. Actually, anyone that does photography that way, won’t be here with us anyway.

Unfortunately, we are creatures of habit. It means that if you developed a trigger mechanism many years ago, it’s still inside you and in working order. It also means that if you made a photo that you really respond to and love, you’re probably gonna have that photo in your heart and mind and maybe subconsciously hunt for it again. There’s nothing wrong with this process as long as you are aware of what you are doing. So there are many things in the tangled web of thoughts and emotions that we need to try and sift thru to make the experience of the next photo and rewarding as any before it.

look, of course you can always go on and just find things and hope for the best. It’s natural and acceptable and a proven way to work.

Back in the 1970s, I read a series of books by Carlos Castaneda. Some say he made the entire series up and discounted the entire thing. The thing is, if you read or do anything to give you input, good, bad or indifferent, it affects the way and what you think. Castaneda said that death lives on your left shoulder. As you go thru life, you need to pay attention to your death. He also said that when you do something, do it as if it’s worth dying for. That’s all heavy stuff but the fact is, you can’t escape that. What does all this have to do with photography? Perhaps you figure that out. I may, in fact, have it all wrong. I just know that there isn’t too much in my life that comes close to my photography. Maybe that’s not so great, but I focused on everything and saw most.

So, I have a thing for backgrounds. Funny thing. See, those posters etc are made for you to absorb a product or some kinda info. Oh yeah, I know it’s a hard thing to grasp but they are really advertisements.  So, by making them a background, I am in fact maybe kinda responding to the ad. There is a communication going on and I find it very interesting. We are bombarded by images, media and info, and more every second. How we respond to it all is what I find interesting.

When I look at shooters photos, I like to find the trigger or stimulus for the photo. Not always easy and interesting to see what others see. Of course, it’s more enjoyable to wonder why they made the photo and not so much how they made the photo.  If you wonder how they made the photo, you might end up in a camera store. If you wonder why they made the photo, you’ll more than likely end up looking for your own photos.

Look Y’all, I believe if your not thinking about stuff like this, before, during and after making photos…. you ain’t thinking. Ya probably ain’t feeling either. Not a good thing I tell’ya. If we don’t challenge ourselves to try and find the light, then we just see the light others shine on us. One of the techniques I used to get info into my student’s heads was….. tell them to bring 5 questions about why the others made a photo. See, we look at photos from all members. Then I instruct each member to choose 3 photos. 1 was to be their own and the other 2 from someone else. Now they have till next session to come up with questions and reasons for those questions about the photos. You would be surprised how difficult this really is. The learning experience was to read the questions for others and then the question and answer for their own work.

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I got a message from my Eye, Heart, and Mind. The message states that I am not done writing and expressing myself. It also states the I need to go to the toilet so I need to end this post now. Not my choice but bodily functions rule.

I will do more over the coming weekend. As always my friends, be Blessed on your journey.

…..end transmission…..shooter out…….

January 9th, 2019 … Blinded With Clear Vision … or … Wake Up the Past to Find the Present

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… you miss the point and you miss and abuse the flavor of life. I will not entertain you with an argument, let me just say, you will never connect your heart to your photos. You probably don’t connect anyone with your heart and for that I feel terrible for your friends and family but my friend…not for you. You have the gift of life and take it for granted.

Sorry friends. You caught me off guard as I was in a discussion about the heart of life and the heart of photography. See, there’s many ways to make photos and many uses and or purposes for those photos.

Flashback….we are at base camp near LZ Liz. I’m sitting around with a couple troops and we are talking about the value we feel for life. Some guys are saying, they would fight to the death and die for America. I feel that way also and continue field cleaning my 45ACP. Spud a soldier from Idaho and on his 5th tour says to me, Jingles, you would die for your friends here and die for your country. I bravely and boldly say, damn right

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Spud knocks me on the head and looks in my eyes. The other troops are looking and trying to figure out what’s happening. Spud says so all the others can hear, Jingles, it’s easy to die here. It’s a worthy cause to die for your friends and your country. You need to find a reason to live for them and America and not die for them. You need to always fight for life, not death. If you survive, you must fight for life every day until you die. You must never surrender to death and when you die, make sure all the world knows it.

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I thought about the dichotomy of life and death. Spuds words resonate in my heart and mind to this very second and I often wonder if he was recognized as a ZEN Master. I asked Spud why he was here so long and he said because here, I am able to feel my life and in the world, I feel I am not worthy and will abuse it.

The thing about photography is, that it is a representation of our life and existence. There is a path to self discovery and for me it has always been with a camera.

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On this path to Self Discovery, we must realize that it is a lonely path and ends in our death.  This does not mean that we can’t share time with others but you’ll catch hell trying to get someone to die with you. That Landmark is strictly a lonely one. OK, so we can’t cheat death or life but what we can do and should do and simply put, must do is: Live our life in a manner that brings focus to our hearts and souls and honors those before us.  As photographers, we should make a worthy battle to maintain our integrity and honor our work as if it is our life’s worth..

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We need to honor our history. It is said that we should see things as if seeing for the first time. Such a simple virgin excuse. By doing so, we erase our history and neglect any value that the work had or has for us. I rather acknowledge;edge my history and maybe make a new photo of the subject but keep the history alive. You simply can not erase the history of your work. So, then, love it and see things differently and make a new photo of whatever you are doing.

Proof that I am not too crazy. We all do exactly as I said every time we make photos of our friends and family etc. If you make photos of a loved one, do you erase the history or embrace it?

I will write more shortly…. go in peace alls………

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December 14th, 2018 … Still Crazy After All These Years

….. it’s the early 80’s and I’ bringing 40 framed prints to a gallery in Olde City for a  solo exhibition. It’s been 2 months in the works to get to this day, The Day of Hanging. I liked to hang shows and am actually very good and precise. I actually was a member of a gallery with the mixed artist. Most were faculty from universities and schools etc. So when I curated and hung the shows, i never had anyone complain. Mixing mixed media and having the show read well, is no easy task. Pat on my back and I needed it. This was different and it’s not my first solo show. It’s just the first for this gallery.

So I park in front of the gallery and P…says we are all ready. He has some young cute assistant and I hmmmmm, Okie. We get all the frames inside and drink coffee. The girl starts moving things around. She feels she has a talent for sequencing work. I’m quiet. P… says Andy is an expert at this. I’m thinking, she’s 21 and an expert….okie. She may very well be but I understand sequencing and she and P…haven’t a clue. i know by the way they placed the frames. So, I said to Andy,m ok… let me give it a shot. I start moving frames and after 15 minutes, I’m happy with the sequence. Andy moves in closer and then turns to me and ask….Do you make all these with a camera? Well, now I am 69 and if she asked me that question, I would poop my pants. oh yeah. This was a long time ago and I was younger and could hold, um… things better. To tell the truth, when Andy asked me that question, I almost did poop my pants. C’mon, what kinda question is that to ask?  Andy says you must be really crazy with all these dark pictures. P…says, yeah, Don makes lots of crazy pictures.

Well, I deal with criticism very well. If a viewer or many viewers have things to say, fine. I don’t take it to heart. Everyone has an opinion and everyone has a lower body part where they can shove their opinions. The thing is, the gallery owner and director make statements like that, I got pissed. We are supposed to be in a synergistic relationship that feeds each other. My prints sell in his gallery and he gets 40% of the sales. So we get it all set up and ready. The 3 of us are sitting around and Andy apologizes for saying my work and I are crazy. P… has to leave and will be back in an hour.

Andy asks me if I can explain some of my photos so she will have a better understanding. Sure I said. She starts questioning me and much to my surprise, the questions were very thoughtful. I’m about 32yo and going on 80. I start telling Andy that I make photos that are a part of my life. See Andy, I was a soldier in Vietnam and that affected me for life. I will never fully get out of Nam. The dark tones, the highlights and the way I present the subject matter, all the aftermath of Nam. I can’t make photos of pretty flowers, or nice buildings and not even make photos of pretty girls,. wait, wait, let’s not get carried away. I can make photos of pretty girls….I’m not stupid.

I explained to Andy that my work is my life and my life is my work. I can’t be what others want me to be. I can’t make photos for anyone except my own soul. I like when someone responds to my work and even like it more if they buy some, but it’s not the motive for my persistence on discovering the world that lives within me and without me.

Opening night P and Andy greet me. I have jeans on and Docksiders, a whiter Tee shirt and a herringbone jacket. People start coming in and I greet them and answer questions. Many are people I know and it’s very comfy. Andy is walking a small group around and explaining my photos. I was so interested in hearing the conversations. She was very heartwarming and captivating. P…comes to me and says, You see why I have Andy here. Andy comes to me and wraps my arm in hers.  < i have a strong heart and won’t let myself fall in love or like or anything. I have a smile on my face and we walk to some people and she introduces me.

There’s an older couple whom I have seen many times at First Friday’s. Andy says Dave and Maria would like to buy 7 photos. I have the list. Andy and I walk to P… and explain that 7 prints are sold. P…says he sold 4 already. I explain to P…. I wish Andy to get 20% from my cut. So, P…you get, 40%, I get 40% and Andy gets 20%. We all agree and Andy is like in heaven. The end of the night we sold 19 prints. The shows up for a month with openings every Friday night. Andy sold more prints and she became a great gallery director. Now she’s one of my finest collectors and takes good care of me. Andy became very wealthy and very informed. She’s well known and a sharp buyer.

I guess the moral of this story, the moral of this song is….. she judged me as crazy and my work. I judged her as a young girl like a butterfly. I learned that Andy had the flair to be a gallery director. She had an instinct for the viewers and how to motivate them to buy. She knew how to stir me and get me thinking and not be complacent with myself just cause I was working over and over in a similar vein.

What did I learn about me?  I’m Still Crazy After All These Years

….as shooters, usually first impressions don’t mean much, we need further investigation of our subject and ourselves to be worthy of Mother Light

December 7th, 2018 … The Day Of Infamy … and the … I’m Sick and Can’t Get Out Post

… coughing … sneezing … I have been sick since before Thanksgiving. The worst part is not being able to hit the streets. My cameras are pissed and I dare not go near the cabinet. Nah, that’s not the worst part…. hold on a sec…. looks around, hmmm the coast is clear. The worst part is being under Tanya’s rule and medical supervision. Oh yeah, my Russian home remedies doctor. I will admit freely … as she stands over my back … that the remedies actually work. So, I make a tent with a towel and cover my head and on the table, she puts a bowl of cut onions. I get close and breathe in and out, the best way to breathe, and the vapor goes where it’s needed and it’s done for 10 minutes. That’s step 1, oh yeah more coming. So the towel tent also lets her put potatoes in a bowl. She takes 2 potatoes… 1 potato, 2 potato and boils then for 20 min. Then she cuts into pieces and puts them in a bowl and I breathe them in for the 10 minutes.

She’s in the kitchen so I can unveil another Russian Medical Secret. If the politicians find out about this, I’ll be charged with Russian Collusion for Potato and Onion conspiracy. Stinky stuff huh. Anyway … a well-guarded secret is the coveted, Black Radish and Honey procedure. She hand picks a Black Radish at the International grocery store. Not very scientific but I want her to feel special as a Russian Home Remedy Doctor. So I watch in awe like I’m captivated by her skills at the selection. Once we get home, she cuts the black radish into pieces. Like 6 parts. They go into a small bowl and then she pours some honey over the pieces. Then covers the bowl with Russian American approved cellophane. In a few hours, she will take a tsp and put the residue from the honey radish that collects at the bottom of the bowl.

I take the tsp of honey radish and swallow it. Ok, Black Radish and Honey concoction are ready for more processing by the American sick photographer, publisher husband. That brings us to the multi-international but mainly Russian American banana stops the coughing  and eases the mucus special medicine. This is a well guarded, highly sought after remedy. From what I could uncover, it’s cooked banana and some sugar. There’s something else in it and I believe it’s lemon. It is lemon I watched her make it secretly. Anyway, this cooks down and the banana you take 2 tablespoons and swallow. It’s warm but not hot.

This immediately soothes the throat but only the throat. See, as a professional Russian American Home Remedy Doctor, she targets specific sections of the sickness That’s why there are so many remedies. They all work and work well but for specific areas. So for about 2 weeks, I’m under Tanya’s care and it’s nice but as for photography, not so good. This gives me lots of thinking time. So me poor mind is working on some issues and a few I never wanted to address……..

I have been using Leica’s for over 45 years. Anyway, now I use the M240. Great camera and love what it does and more importantly, what it does to me and how it works with me. The problem is, it’s heavy. Oh yeah, I’m not in great shape anymore and I tried many straps and configurations. I have been using the ACAM 25 and it’s a quickly reconfigure strap. Great, actually the very best. Goes from neck to shoulder to cross chest in a second. Cross-chest is best for weight but now, at this point, even that doesn’t work. I get pains in my neck, shoulder, and upper back. So, I need to think about the Leica in a different light. Obviously, that means a wrist strap. Ok, so I have many and many nice ones. I put Andre’ the Leica M240 on a wrist strap… no what? Huh, open for ideas. A shoulder bag is off the list. I have too many and can’t use them anymore. So the obvious alternative is a waist pack. I have the Camslinger Streetomatic bag. It’s great, does more than I need.

So, I am undecided about Andre’ the Leica M240. My instincts tell me to sell him to someone that can use and enjoy him. Our daze together is coming to an end and we both know it. The thing about having more than one camera is, you feel compelled to use them, What the hell, ya got em, use em. My thing is I get into phases where I want to have maybe 2 cameras with me.m No, switching lenses is not the same. I can’t keep this going but I hate to sell off my friends. So I switch around and beings that any camera I have is a trusted friend and we work well together, of course except Andre’ the Leica M240…..bummer

I can’t get out to shoot so I re-photographed from my collection.  Anyways, the remedies really work, don’t lose them, trust me. I think all these are from the Ricoh Gr or GRII. To be honest, I can’t wait for the Ricoh GRIII. Have a blessed weekend my friends. Seeya as soon as I can escape my mad Russian American Home Remedy Doctor.

Please remember that today, December 7th is the Day Of Infamy. Pray for all of us that we never experience another one.

…………………………………..end transmission………………………………………

 

November 30th, 2018 … Watching You Watching Me … Passing Time With Harry Bertoia

I was heading out to Harry Bertoia’s place in Barto Pa, and was anxious to talk with him. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Bertoia   Harry had a mind that was limitless in thoughts. He was expecting me and had a cup of coffee ready when I arrived. Harry was sitting and looking at some of his sculptures. I sat in the chair next to him and by the way, the chairs were sculptures by Harry. Harry looked at me and asked, “What do you see”? I know that no matter my answer, it would either be wrong or in adequate. I told Harry that I can only explain what I’m seeing that connects my heart. (If this is wrong, I don’t wanna be right) I said I see the light, textures, shapes and the physical things associated to each piece.

Harry smiled and said, what do you think the pieces are thinking as they look at us? My eyes kinda perked up and I was caught off guard. It’s 1976, my son Paul was born 5 months prior to this event. I hadn’t done any drugs in a long time, no pot, no alcohol either. Clean and sober except for photography. So I felt kinda trippy when Harry asked me that question. I never thought about my works watching me as I watch them. It’a absurd I tellya, totally absurd. That’s not the lesson he was teaching me.

Harry was teaching me about perception and how it applies to others seeing me. Harry said that my work is stronger than any mirror image. Look at your self in a mirror and you may adjust yourself as you see fit. When you look at your work, realize that it is looking at you and can’t be adjusted. You just need to accept the fact that it is you and another way of seeing yourself and being seen.

Minor White had a similar concept about viewing work. He felt that it was a 3 way process. The photographer, The work and the viewer. All 3 are as one and not one part shall be excused from the others. I agree with these Master of course. I also like to add that there are other elements involved and even as the work is created. The idea of money or paid work, regardless of the original intent, will most certainly effect the outcome.

The intent of the photo is now maybe divided upon the shooter and the shooter’s client. The photo that’s looking back at us maybe is in the hands of a client and those eyes are watching us intently. Who or whom is our work satisfying now? I think Harry had a getter grasp on this than Minor. Harry made and sold a lot of work. His Sounds Of Sculpture is an amazing recording. I got to play some of those sculptures in his studio. Harry gave me a small mushroom sculpture and I still have it. In fact I was looking at it a short time ago and it told me to write this blog post, so I did,

 

 

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November 12th, 2018 … Long Time Since I Been On This Street Before

….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