7/8/2019

Here is a picture I took the night after I ended the longest romantic relationship of my life. 

I came home from Vincent and Nora’s that night and noticed how the sky and moon looked. I knew I wanted to document that night but I didn’t really know why. There’s supposed to be some sort of moon transit right now, according to my astrology app. Last night it looked like a wide piece of cantaloupe, hiding behind low clouds, as I walked home from the bus. I didn’t exactly realize it at the time, because I was more relieved than sad, but the night I took this picture was one of the first nights in two years that I didn’t call him before I fell asleep. I set up the tripod and pointed it up, sideways, every which way, to photograph the sky. I shot most of a roll, and then I put the tripod in my driveway where he’d park, and stood under the weak floodlight at the front door to my apartment to fire the shutter. 

I did not think my entire life would upend itself after I ended my relationship. My parents’ house will have changed completely the next time I visit. I myself might be moving apartments- a change of scenery would be nice, considering this is the first time I’ve broken up with someone and stayed living in the same place, afterwards (though I’ve never lived with a partner). ICP all but closed, meaning I lost access to an Imacon scanner. While this sounds sort of conceited, drum scans have been pivotal to my artistic process since 2015, and figuring out a new process is a challenge. The scan you are looking at is a flatbed scan from my boss’s work scanner. My future scans will either be expensive or sloppy, like this one. 

The only word I can use to describe how I have felt lately is unmoored. I find myself resonating heavily with the person I was during the summer of 2015, the last time I was single for longer than a month or so. Part of this is the being single and the other part is that I was so strikingly alone during that period of my life - as I am now. A brief but intense relationship ended that February and that summer was spent trying to pick out all the stitches left in me. It was also spent panicking about death. I’ve been thinking about how quickly the last four years of my life have gone by, and fending off a lot of similarly negative and panicky thoughts in the process. It would be interesting to try and visualize what those fears mean to me - all I feel like I’ve been able to do lately is exist within them.

Eventually those fears subside. It’s been a month since I took this picture. I know how to take care of myself. I want to foster a stronger relationship to my work. I’m planning trips to different states, places I’ve never been. I’m doing all the right things. I have reasons to feel unmoored but I have better reasons to feel strong and resilient. The reason I have had trouble writing this out is that I assume no one wants to hear about my personal shit, despite the fact that it’s the main thing I write and photograph about. So here I am: looking my tenderness in the face, acknowledging it for what it is, loving it (even if that means photographing it in the dark).


6/15/2019

Here are four pictures I took the last time I was in Maryland - the last one of the sunset through the trees is in my sister’s backyard in Richmond. I’m back in Maryland again tonight. I have had a hell of a week, and am in an all-too-familiar pattern of waiting for the days to seem less long, and for my sadness to seem less pressing. So I’m comforting myself with these pictures of trees. Below is a short blurb I wrote on what being depressed has meant for my work, at the request of someone putting together a project based on the experience of making photographs while depressed.

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In my statement I name memory, loss, and uncertainty as the main motivation behind my work. These are all byproducts of my depression. When I started working on this project, I was fresh out of college and lacked direction, without feedback. I kept photographing, though, and two years later I’ve noticed that when I’m not making pictures, it’s very hard to see past my own sadness. I photograph, and live, in spite of my depression.  
I am surrounded by change and feel like my life has been constantly in flux since this project started. The uncertainty comes from the fact that the places I return to, to make pictures, change interminably each time I return. I have a mild fixation on documenting things as they are in a given moment, in order to not lose those pieces of myself. This can be said about my portraits too- my nephew keeps getting bigger, my mother keeps getting frailer, every time I see them. The actual subjects are the feelings I had at these places, with these people, and since the feelings are in the past, I’ve found they can only be revisited through my photographs. The images are less documentarian, however, than they are manifestations of a past long gone, before the things I photograph are changed or gone forever. 

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I’m going to get off my ass and drive around and make some pictures. 


6/5/2019

Trying to come up with what to say so I don’t end up saying nothing.  

I started the month by taking a self-portrait in my bed and have left the camera on the tripod, cable release still attached and stored in the viewfinder (which on the RB is like a little box on top of the ground glass), since then. I biked close to 19 miles over the weekend. I’d like to do it again this weekend. I am trying to make a cohesive body of work but all I end up doing is staring at the clouds. Would like to stop feeling listless and (if only aggressively) throw myself in one particular direction. 

Re: my first sentence: Is it better to say nothing or to say the same shit over and over again? 

I feel like my last three blog posts have read exactly the same. If I’m a photographer who operates on opportunity, on some “decisive moment” bullshit, then I have to be present for those opportunities, right? I have to show up for myself and show up for the pictures that I want to take, right? There’s no good answer for what’s keeping me from doing that. 

This photo was one of the first I took with this camera, in the back-end of some forgotten railway yard in or next to Richmond. It was a blisteringly hot day and the photos I took of the sunset, later that evening, are all tinged around the edges with a humid fog. I’ve come to realize, all over again, that my work has only been successful when it’s been “about me,” or about what is going on in my life, or has my direct hand and heart in it, or some such drivel like that. I can only take the pictures I’m meant to take, if we want to get existential about it, and I have a lot of difficulty not feeling existential lately. 

So I’ve been trying to be more gentle with my work because I am being gentler with myself (in some respects). I want to be gentler and forgive myself and allow for tender feelings, and I want to kick my own ass in some respects. I shot 35mm all weekend, and all last weekend too, and I’ll have to kick my ass to get that film developed while on a pretty tight budget. I just want to have an engaged artistic practice. I want to be actively doing it, photographing, I’m tired of telling people I take pictures and then having very little to show for it. I’m tired of people not looking at my work. 

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I also have been thinking about this image more, recently:

Worth noting:

- The red and orange streaks in the middle of the photo are obviously a car. I want to experiment more with this. I’m reminded of some old aerial pictures of the DC area by Trevor Paglen. When the car drove in front of my camera I was frustrated but looking back it adds so much. 

- It’s a very nice image to view both small and large. Not all of my pictures can be described this way. I love the way the light hits the grass which you can only see when viewing sort of up close. 

- The sky is not black. It was a rainy night when I shot this and the sky is a murky reddish gray. I have wanted to capture the clouds like that for a while and even though it’s not the subject of the image it’s a nice touch.

- I feel like there are some art school stretches I could take to describe what it is I like about this picture, but at the end of the day, it’s just because the place and the time resonate with me when I look at it. I was in the middle of hashing drama out with my parents and my sister, I took the car to go get us Thai food and came back and took this. It’s taken across from the Sligo Creek golf course, but it’s also taken from right next to a soccer field in which I’d regularly lay around and make out with the first person I loved. We’ve both since moved away and grown into very different people but I usually think of him when I drive past that field. I have a memory from when I was younger of trying to fly a kite in this field with both of my parents. It’s also the same field that Lowell and I drove his car through to film a scene from one of his movies. For once I was more panicked about something than he was - it was three in the morning and all we did was drive the car through the grass, in the empty dark. 

I want what I bring to my photographs to be communicated and written but it’ll never be the end-all be-all to understanding the photographs. I want them to be resonant and worth looking at, both with and without the context that’s intrinsic to their creation. 

I take it all back - saying something, even if you’ve said it a hundred times, is better than saying nothing at all.

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