This past Saturday, I took a rather long drive. There was more space between Knoxville and the highway I chose to look at than there was on the particular highway (or area) itself. At first I was getting frustrated, thinking I should have gotten up earlier or stayed closer to home. Then it started happening, I began to see the things that I was there to see. So, all in all, Huntsville wasn't a bad idea.
This Eagle was a choice moment in the day. I am in love with wall paintings, especially wall paintings of landscapes or animals. In fact, I am in love with animals painted on things, printed on things, projected on things, wherever... As long as the animal doesn't really belong there, all the better for me.
Here is a fine example of seeing a thing, pulling a thing out of your pocket, documenting the thing and making the thing a photograph. No matter how you see the world or what you look at around you, you can never make those things into photographs if you don't have the camera with you. I am not always 100% good about following that rule, but I try to have a camera handy a lot of the time. You never know when you will be inspired or SEE something that is special.
This one just happened to be on a Saturday Drive with Russell Garner and we were stopping for lunch. It was a rainy day and we decided to end the drive with some pizza. I only mention the rain because I don't think this image would be as powerful without the added reflection of the rain on the paint and street. It all adds up.
I went on a trip with some work folks up to Kentucky on Monday. It was a work function, so I didn't have a whole lot of time to wander off and make photographs, but I made due.
I made these on our lunch pit stop and later when we stopped off for gas.
The Kudzu House is not the only lonely structure I send my love to. I stop along the way and try and give a little to a great many Abandoned Buildings. I wish I could give them all some attention, but there are times when it is hard to stop, or the light isn't right, or there just isn't enough color (maybe that will change since I've been leaning into monochrome lately). There is something lovely and sad about the dead architecture on the side of the road.
Much of the time, I see them as a symptom of my overarching theme of the Small Road being tossed aside by the Big Road. Other times they are simply a result of the changing times and how we build things differently these days. Whatever causes these structures to become my photographic fodder, I'd like to think that I am giving them a new life. Maybe somehow an eternal life in the eyes of a different audience. Audience, say 'hello' to American Vernacular's Past.
Broken Mirror, Knoxville, TN 2015 © jwl
Back in 2010, I made a book titled Walking Pictures. The book consisted of 50 photographs taken on walks. These walks began around the my neighborhood in Milwaukee, WI, but the photographs in the book eventually expanded as I would take walks in cities as I traveled.
The idea was to make images on walks, then post them on this blog, after 50 posts we made a book. All of this was simply a way to keep working on photography in a consistant manner. To keep my eyes looking and truly paying attention photographically.
That book was 5 years ago. Wow. Since then I have relocated to Knoxville, TN, and in that move taken an unexpected hiatus from photography. Now, I feel, I am back in the looking game. I feel energized by the work of photography and I look forward to making some kind, any kind of photograph every day.
I have made the habit of taking my Saturday Drives around the region. Digging in a little deeper than I did when I worked on Southeastern View, a book which was born mostly from my VISITS to Tennessee from Wisconsin. A difference, I feel, that will hopefully shine through as I produce work LIVING in Tennessee.
Where I have stated that sometimes I get blocked up trying to look at the things I see everyday, as though I have to travel or drive out of my element to get inspired. Thus, I take walks still. Camera in hand, not far from home, actively looking at everything and creating images of what I see. These three images are something I made from what I have found recently.
For as long as I have been making photographs, I have had an affection for the small cameras. Even though the majority of my work is made in Medium Format, I love to play with pocket sized 35mm cameras. There is something so very personal and truthful about the process of looking at the world with a small camera.
The machine itself is a wonderful tool. To have the possibility of creating a lasting and memorable image with something so small is an addictive kind of power. Oddly, the even more versatile and somewhat better resolution of an iphone camera doesn't resonate as much power for me. Not that I don't use them, there's just a different feeling I get with the old film version.
Maybe it has something to do with learning with film when I was young, or enjoying a more tactile ideal with the camera settings and all that... Who knows why I feel different with one camera over another? At the end of the day, it's the photograph that truly matters.
Since I generally have one or two of these cameras loaded around the studio for me to just grab and go whenever I feel like working, it can take a while for me to use up a roll of film. Granted, lately it has gone faster since I haven't been using the Digital much, but you understand. One or Two negatives, every once in a while can take some time.
These three photographs were made years apart, with two cameras on the same roll of film (I took it out and used it again later). They are examples of Democratically looking at whatever strikes me while on a walk from somewhere to somewhere else.
This week's Saturday Drive was literally driven by Eli Johnson. He had a photograph he wanted to make near Knoxville, so he wanted to take a short drive and see what he could do. I said, 'come pick me up' and I tagged along.
Riding shotgun is unfamiliar to me, yet the roads we chose were very familiar. I had taken this route a few times, so I was aware of what I was gonna see. Luckily, Eli's enthusiasm was with us or I wouldn't have made any stops to photograph.
Throughout the time I noticed that I was uninspired and in my own head, I tried to work these feelings out. I am noticing the tendency for me to go 'blind' when I get into familiar places. I just stop seeing the art I can make. I will work on this tendency and try to erase it. There is no reason I shouldn't be able to make photographs on my own turf.
These images were made while Eli was working on some other subjects. Lemonade, I'd say. I'm happey with what these images represent in my body of work and I'm happy to have had Eli's energy nearby. Thanks, Bud!