I don’t like that phrase ‘treat everyday like it’s your last’. Is it a joke? My dad would say ‘it’s a good thing we don’t know when we’re going to die or there’d be one helluva party the night before’. Better, but still.
It seems the pressure for having a special, productive, quantitative time every 24 hours hits me hardest in the summer. While everyone is proving on Instagram that their vacations are drawn out affairs at some waters edge bountiful with friends and food, sunny landscapes and laughter, I focus on studio design work, random personal projects and DesignInquiry because I’m not teaching which is a huge break in have-to’s. And while yeah, I post here and there just to stick my head up out of the weeds, I worry about summer’s passing without a significant and monumental build up of production or not having a real beach vacation. Even while I take time to read for fun (already loved Station Eleven, Euphoria, Lila, Big Little Lies, The Light Between Oceans, All the Light We Cannot See, Dept. of Speculation—audio versions which I don’t consider cheating) and as I finish up strange bits of lingering projects, the calendar keeps nudging me. But the garden is doing fine with less attention, we’re seeing colleges with our daughter and she is narrowing down her list, today our son is done with his summer school class that’ll lighten his fall engineering load, and everyone has been tolerating and even enjoying recipes I’m trying out. Charles had a birthday party and I stuck to my plan of no-school-planning-until-August (I start tomorrow) and I’ve been taking fencing classes, a weekly highlight for brain and body. Meanwhile, the post-it lists get shuffled and priorities still include defining daily production in a new way.
After college I went to the Maine Photographic Workshops (as was its name in 1974) to assist teaching. I remember sitting on a hill across from the campus darkrooms in Rockport with Paul Caponigro who had just reviewed my portfolio of photographs. He told me that I probably noticed when I stepped from a carpeted floor to a hardwood floor and could also describe the colors as well as the textures of these floors — that without noticing I was noticing — and that’s what a photographer practices and sometimes we mark this by making an image. …something like this anyway, it’s been forty years, no matter… I shared my frustrations of listening to the presentations by so many photographers who had purpose of making, a point of view, a particular stance and agenda where I just liked framing and seeing and noticing. I told him that for me maybe sometimes watching a muffin being buttered at the Corner Cafe is enough to practice just being in everyday moments, these big iconic Ah Ha’s were too hard to look for and I wasn’t interested.
Peripheral vision of moments — maybe this is enough. Enough to notice and to photograph and even to care about, this recognizing then stopping gesture and expression of the days that include light and frame to elevate witnessing. I was young when I ruminated and took it all so seriously on that grassy hill, but I still can’t stop poking the nothings into somethings, the meanwhiles that become the nows.
I’m sending an image to an alum show at ASU and I’ve written this as an artist statement:
Mesh the phrases time being, and on my own terms and this is why I photograph, and maybe what I photograph.
Making photographs meets my curiosity halfway. Halfway between intrigue and simple witnessing. Halfway between time being and on my own terms.
Time then is the backbone of what we get done, the celebrating of noticing when crossing onto the hardwood from the carpet, stepping over the sill.