Friday, August 29, 2014

Old Friends

Jeremy and I are engaged in an apartment renovation. If you keep on reading my blog, you're going to learn a lot about this project. You are going to see before and after pictures. You are going to hear about instant successes and unfortunate roadblocks.

At this moment, Jeremy and I are busy going through our possessions. We are throwing some things away. We are giving some things away. We are keeping some things. We are carefully packing up the stuff we are keeping in an organized fashion and bringing most of it to a storage unit. That is because we want to make room for the electrician, painters, builders and apartment renovation consultant to do their jobs.

Once our apartment has a cohesive color scheme, beautiful shelving and reflects our current lifestyle, we will bring everything back. We will put books and CDs and sculptures and treasured items in their rightful place. Right now, it looks like the rightful places will be a combination of built-ins, IKEA hacked creations and repurposed existing furniture. When I have more information, I'll let you know.

This was part of a series I shot for
Brides Magazine in 1989.
Each photograph represented
a different china pattern.
There are situations where I predict what will happen and that prediction turns out to be very accurate. I like to think I'm perceptive and reflective. So a lot of times, my predictions play out very much like I think they will.

Then there are the other times.

I recently unearthed a box full of my old photography work. I was a commercial still life photographer from 1988 until 2002. Then I stopped being a photographer. Someday, I will write about what it was like to be a photographer and then not be a photographer.  I'm not ready to do it now.

I approached this box with some trepidation. I made a prediction about how I would feel going through the box. I got myself ready to have an unpleasant experience. I felt that something was being exhumed and was going to be looking at items that were dead and buried. Stuff I hadn't looked at it a long time. I expected to see a bunch of crappy, dated work. I'd look through a few pieces and then throw the lot of it away.
1991 was off to an amazing start
with a once in a lifetime opportunity-
a creative collaboration with
Carbone Smolan Associates!
I mailed the resulting calendar to
my favorite editors and designers.
The rest was history.

The reality of it couldn't be further from my prediction. The reality took my breath away.

This wasn't a photography graveyard. It was a captivating treasure chest, perfectly saved, lovingly organized and exquisite. I was overcome.

The box I happened upon contained the artifacts of a photography career. It took place before digital technology, the Internet or social media. It was like going to a natural history museum and seeing a prehistoric fern perfectly preserved in amber.

There were C-prints, beautifully crafted. I remembered myself as a master printer and I saw that my memory served me well.

I fell in love with the young version of myself, who doggedly employed the same 35mm camera that I used in high school, the same camera that my stepfather paid for half of once I'd saved up enough babysitting and birthday money to pay for the other half.
I learned a lot about healthy eating
from photography assignments.
This one was for an article about
B vitamin sources for Health Magazine.

I used that camera to launch my career and no one could believe the images were not of a larger format. Much the same way I use my iPhone camera now.

Many of the images were timeless. Some were prophetic of what would later be. That surprised me. It floored me that photographs of fine china and expensive shoes had so much in common compositionally to the pictures I take now of trash on the sidewalk and fruits in situ at the farmers market.

Some photographs of globes and maps that I shot for a lavish annual report, in the days when annual reports were lavish, looked disarmingly like the collages I make for this blog.

I found that's quarter century of time and life experience had changed me less than I thought.
I've loved pasta all my life.
Naturally, I was excited to shoot
a layout for Food & Wine
elevating my favorite food
with my artistic style.

Sure there were some dated pieces. They were funny and sweet and in another 10 years will be worthy of a vintage new life. The pragmatist kept an example of what was good and threw the rest away. The occasional results of a bad day, a bad client or a bad subject were tossed.

I began handling the prints with reverence and attention. The dots were connecting. This dot connecting turned into a very good thing. I'd been prepared to slog through this box with gritted teeth and determination. What I found was whimsy and beauty and color and fun. What I found was something to take care of.

I hadn't been a fool. I wasn't one now either. As organizing sessions go, this one was pretty awesome.

There was no social media or even email in the late 80's and early
90's. I worked hard to make sure my snail mail promotional
pieces stood out from the rest.

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