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.


5/11/2019

Lowell-

This time of year comes around painfully slowly, every time, like when you make a turn down a block you know you haven’t been down in a long time and won’t go down for another long while. It’s hard to trust perfectly nice spring days because, on a perfectly nice spring day four years ago, the world lost you. I don’t admit it often but the truth is you’re in every empty space I photograph in the places I’m from and the places I go. I keep telling myself I’ll be done making work about you and the truth is you keep showing up, often when I least expect it. I wasn’t going to write to you today but this afternoon in the gallery, behind a woman in a projection of a Garry Winogrand photograph, I found the better part of your name, and knew it was you showing up again. 

Four years is a long time and also absolutely nothing. The only thing that makes it easy to live freely, knowing it can all be swept away in an instant, knowing how quickly loss can pull the rug out from under your feet, is that I know you’d live as freely as you could, if you were still here. As I grow further away from being the age I was when you died I realize your loss has, at times, become greater than your character, and that frustrates and scares me. I wondered the other day how long your hair might have grown before remembering you’re on your parents’ mantel, in their house with a yellow door in Takoma Park. But you’re also on every street we drove down, in every long shadow of a tree, in every stupid Yankees homer. I want to tell you about stupid Aaron Judge and all the dumb shit Kanye is doing, I want to make the joke about the president of Burundi and remind you of who you were to me, once. Today I’m remembering you for the person you were and all of the you that might have been. The world is just a little bit dimmer without you but it’s what’s inspired me to try and brighten it as much as I can, even after all this time. I miss you- thanks for saying hi today.

-E

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