Face of the Machine

Face of the Machine

I’ve begun to simplify my life by getting rid of the clutter of 69 years.

Because I have no siblings, wife or children I have no one to whom I can leave the jetsam and flotsam of my life. So rather than dumping a huge load of shit on my brothers-in-law, I’ve decided to get rid of unused or unnecessary things. I tend to move slowly on projects, so I figure I’d better get started while I still have some good years left. It’s going to take years.

Looking at all this stuff is like time travel on steroids. Each image carries not only the memories of taking the picture but also of the time surrounding it; little bubbles of life captured in the amber of photosensitive silver. It’s an amazing experience to discover that my memory hasn’t flat-lined but still works great. Just don’t ask me what I had for breakfast.

I’ve been reviewing my accumulated work and trying to get some control of my 55 years of photography. I’ve got 100,000s of negatives and slides; most of which have never seen the light of day. Like Vivian Maier, I’ve documented my life through photography and squirreled it away. Unlike Vivian, I’ve occasionally shown a few of my images and now, I am working to get my art out into the world rather than die and leave it all to the vagaries of chance.

This is not a somber task. Each day I find treasures.

When I take a photo I have two simultaneous thoughts. One is conscious composition, weighing the context, drama, shapes, light and shadow. The other is subconscious, a clearer eye that sees beneath the moment and imparts meanings that I’m not aware of at the moment. It is only later as I work with the image in Photoshop that the two thoughts merge into a cogent whole. Each image surprises me.

While creating an image I often enter a meditative state. Often it leaves me feeling enriched. I used to get the same feeling working in the darkroom. However, Photoshop is more rewarding. I am able to see my ideas come to life almost instantly, not requiring long hours in the darkroom exposing, developing, washing, and drying before there is a proof to evaluate. In addition, Lightroom and Photoshop offer capabilities that only the most sophisticated photo labs could offer.

I’m having fun and using my brain. Perhaps in the process I’ll create pictures that will tell a story.

Eventually, what will become of all this stuff? Haven’t a clue. As I separate the wheat from the chaff I am looking for those images that are either of artistic or historic interest. Perhaps at a later time, I’ll find a historical society or museum who will give them a home.

Technical Note

I’m scanning the the best of the keepers at 6400 dpi which creates huge files that allow me to make prints 13″ x 19″ or larger. I’m also using an Access database to list and describe what I’m keeping.

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