June 14, 2013

Terra Firma

Outdoor hostel dining in Albuquerque. New Mexico/ June 2013

The first meal enjoyed in the home kitchen after a time apart is the best. When I walked into my home after a late arrival from New Mexico I was thrilled to see my plants thriving, not doubled over as anticipated. The dill of my herb garden threatening to overtake the entire sill. Greedy greens. I took care of that guy by eating half of his foliage with my breakfast eggs. Three out of numerous pots growing wild, long arms reaching out for more sun, more sun, more sun. Maybe they were in need of a holiday from me and my tireless tending.

Five days of undisturbed sunbathing, how glorious.

It was glorious. I didn't take my new hat off once, except to slumber and to bathe. My photo trip to the desert was funny to say the least. Did you find what you were looking for? Craig asked me on the ride home from the airport. No. Did you shoot a lot of photos? Nope. And then I cried. That sounds pathetic but it was more funny than anything. In actuality I could barely fill two rolls (of twelve exp.)! Haha. I did learn that I don't have to travel 1128 miles to find inspiration. It is right here in Winnipeg, as well as within, and around, and all over just waiting to be flipped on its back like a rock.

I am no Ansel Adams, this much I know.

Aging face self portrait in Albuquerque. New Mexico/ June 2013


I'm just me, girl with a frying pan inked into forearm.

To search for something unbeknownst to me in that beautiful desert landscape that had long been trail-blazed by photography greats I admire was humbling. Every time I stopped dead in my tracks or skidded off the shoulder to climb on the car to shoot yet another rock face or rolling bramble, I would laugh and announce aloud: Who the hell do you think you are? I am not sure how to pen what I was expecting by traveling to New Mexico, but what I was expecting and what I came away with are two very different things.

Everyone wears a hat in New Mexico. Everyone drives a Toyota or a bike. My kind of place.

Two years ago, while struggling with the decision of whether or not to walk away from my photography studies at Concordia, this small passage (p. 16) from photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson's slim book titled 'The Mind's Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers' influenced me deeply both in my decision at the time and in my photographic practice now:

     To take photographs is to hold one's breath when all faculties converge in the face of fleeing reality. It is at that moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy. 
     To take photographs means to recognize--simultaneously and within a fraction of a second--both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one's head, one's eye, and one's heart on the same axis. 

To this day, I will not trigger the camera unless all three aspects--head, eye and heart-- are aligned and sharp. All together now. Cartier-Bresson was a wise man and continues to be, long after death. When these three inner aspects converge, there is a knowing spirit and stillness that overtakes me and from there, a strong foundation from which to build. I suppose this is what it means to me to be an artist and to be a photographer. Perhaps exactly that is what I set out to discover in the first place.

Shot from the train on my way to Santa Fe. New Mexico/ June 2013
What I found difficult to stalk in the desert was the happy marriage of form and subject within the frame. Without spirit, form, geometry or passion, there is nothing. I would rather simply look around then for myself, to take in the surroundings as they are and lay the camera to rest instead of shooting flatly for the sake of new work. Ha-rumph as Lisa would say.

With that said, off I go hi-ho to drop my single roll of slides off to process. Two contrast rolls recording the birth of Spring await and so does my travel laundry.

Again, as always, it is good to be home.

1 comment:

  1. The hostel dining shot is PERFECT. When I saw it, pride flooded through me. Your work and time is paying off girl. A very full envelope coming your way SOOON! I will get it mailed on break aka 5 days from now.