Not my photo of the day, but a photo of my ordeal of the day. The TSA is going to love my new titanium wrist jewelry.
Today’s photo of a little pile of rubble is a rather mundane image, certainly, but to me it resonates with a significance in inverse proportion to its artistry.
Let me try to explain.
I have felt, lately, that it is time for me to quit this daily photo undertaking. Last week I announced to my family that I was going to call it quits on September 11—a sad day in history, to be sure—but also the 18-month anniversary of the day I committed to take a photo every day for a year.
I completed my first year (without missing a single day) in February, and a bit like Forrest Gump I just kept on going. Since then there has been only one day that I have not taken a photograph. It has become an ingrained habit, to be sure, but more than that I think that on most days, I just take pleasure in the simple act of putting a frame around some little slice of my world and trying to turn it into something beautiful. But still, I’m running low on enthusiasm and creativity, and I thought it was time to quit. Not to quit photographing, mind you—I hope I never do that—but to photograph more purposefully, with more intent and focus, with less frequency and more joy. But September 11 came and went, an inspiring weekend workshop with Joel Meyerowitz propelled me on through my self-imposed end date, and I’m still at it: today, with a picture of rock and rubble.
Oddly enough it’s a picture I really like—more than I should, arguably—but it has meaning to me, somehow. On the most basic level I just find it rather of pretty and interesting: the colors, the textures, the shape—they please me. On another level it’s a very personal picture. On days when I’m grasping for inspiration I stop by a local cemetery and prowl around for a photo. It’s a quiet and beautiful place, and I usually have it all to myself; that alone is usually worth the trip. There is a huge old family mausoleum smack dab in the middle of all the gravestones, and I have photographed it many times, from many angles and in every season. Today I spotted this little pile of rubble on the steps of the structure—swept up, I believe, from the crumbling stone foundation—and I snapped a photo of it. The tasty little morsel of aqua green stone was likely colored by the runoff from the intricate bronze front door (that I have also photographed on numerous occasions), and the simple clutter-y jumble could be interpreted as a metaphor for life and death—the messiness, the decay. The beauty.
But most of all, this photograph was a small reminder of a big fact: there are photographs to be found everywhere. And it was that simple thought that kept me going…for one more day.
Anyone familiar with my work will know that this is an unusual photo for me, but it has a story behind it, so bear with me.
After a long, cold winter and a rather chilly spring, today was the first perfect day for a bike ride. So this afternoon I suited up and hopped on my JUST tuned-up bike for my first ride of the season. Less than two miles into my ride, an old, florid-faced fat guy in his shiny, new 4,000-pound Mercedes ran a stop sign and banged right into 110-pound me and my lightweight bike. Incredulous, I started sputtering and cursing and yelling, and he (finally) stopped, rolled down his window, looked and me with his rheumy eyes and barked, accusatorially (like it was my fault), “I didn’t see you! You blended in with the trees!
Now, trust me on this one, the bike jerseys I wear do NOT blend in with the trees (and neither my skin nor hair has ever, or ever will be, green). I buy bright, loud and ugly bike jerseys for one reason only: I do not want to get hit by a car. On more than one occasion one or another of my children has quipped as I head out for a ride, “Nice shirt, Mom. You’re sure not going to get hit by a car wearing that thing.”
Not so, apparently.
So, my photo today is the jersey I wore, blending in with the trees. 🙂
Luckily, I was not hurt and my vehicular assailant only nicked my back tire. I was able to remove the wheel and realign it; we parted enemies and I finished my ride. But I’m a little out of shape after a winter of just walking the dogs for exercise, and it took me a lot longer than usual to finish my favorite 26-mile route. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that my rear brake had been knocked into the side of my tire and had been rubbing against the wheel for the bulk of the ride.
I’m hoping for a less eventful ride tomorrow, provided I’m not too sore. And you can be sure I’ll be wearing a garish, neon-bright jersey.
I walk past this brightly and exuberantly painted board–it appears to be used as a sledding jump–on a steep hill I walk down on my morning walk with the dogs, and it has caught my eye (and my camera lens) on several occasions. I’ve never posted it as my photo of the day because I’ve never found the shot very artful…it’s just a two dimensional photograph of someone else’s artwork, after all.
Yet I’ve often thought about who might have painted it, and I’ve spun a theory that it was a family project, perhaps a father and his children bonding on a winter Saturday morning in the chilly garage. In my mind’s eye I see pots of paints and thick brushes arranged on carefully spread newspapers, Dad painting the faces, Caroline responsible for the smiling sun and flower, Ant. Jr. (Anthony, I presume) adding the peace and yin-yang embellishments, Gian, the middle child, simply clamoring for attention. For me, it exudes a wholesome, family vibe.
This morning my daughter Katie, just home from college for her spring break, joined me on my morning walk, and I stopped to photograph the painted board–again–just in case I didn’t have time to shoot anything else today. Once I had my shot, she took a look at the board and said to me, “I know those kids from high school! One of them was very artistic.”
“They were a bunch of stoners.”
“One of them was my first kiss.”
And there, in one fell swoop, went my theory 🙂
Another long day for me–I am now in Camden, Maine for a photography workshop at the Maine Media Workshops. I had another eventful day of travel–arriving at LaGuardia Airport this morning, I learned that I did not actually reserve myself a ticket to Maine; rather I had printed out my itinerary but failed to hit the “Purchase Ticket” button, a truly bone-headed oversight on my part. I generally consider myself to be a resourceful and intelligent person, but today…well, not so much.
I scrambled and hopped on a shuttle to Boston, rented a car and drove the remaining 200-plus miles to Maine. I arrived late and weary, so my photo of the day is of the cast iron bathtub in my hotel room. Hey, it’s all I’ve got.
That I actually took this arguably dull shot and that I am now in Nantucket is a minor miracle. Today was truly a comedy of errors.
After getting organized and packed yesterday, I got up early, walked the dog, and got ready for the 4 hour car trip and 2 hour ferry ride to this lovely island. My daughter and I were ready to go at the appointed hour (my husband can’t join us until Tuesday), I had tranquilized the dog–who hates the car–and packed the goldfish (madness). We got in the car, and, lo and behold, the battery was COMPLETELY dead. No big deal, I’m thinking at that point–I know how to jump a car (I’m from Minnesota after all; car batteries die all the time in that frigid climate). However, last night after packing the car I had pulled it ALL the way into the garage because of the bikes loaded on the back of it, nudging the hood of the car right up to the tool bench. So close in fact, that when we tried to pop the hood to jump the battery the hood wouldn’t open, no way, no how. Short of taking an ax to the tool bench, there was no way that hood would open. OK then, so we’ll put the car in neutral and roll it a few feet–still no big deal.
Wrong. This car has been built by German engineers, and when you have no battery you cannot put the car in neutral. So, I call BMW assist (panic is now starting to set in–I have a ferry to catch, for which tickets must be purchased months in advance) and their slow-talking “technician” tells me to get the “red tool” out of the trunk and starts giving me detailed instructions how to use this “red tool” to put the car in neutral. However, said “red tool” is buried beneath a month’s worth of luggage and provisions, and because the battery is dead the key won’t open the back hatch. Now it’s major panic. We unpack the car via the passenger doors–which I have thankfully left open–locate the “red tool,” insert said “red tool” in a slot that proved nearly impossible to locate, put the car in neutral, jump the battery, repack all our stuff and off we go…an hour and a half after we planned. Thinking we still had a fair chance of catching our ferry (I’m a bit of a lead foot, if necessary, and I thought I had left plenty of time), we hit epic 1-95 traffic which made catching our ferry only possible if I drove 120 miles an hour for the remainder of the trip.
I must have had a little karma on my side, however, as there was standby space on the next ferry and here we are. So this photo may be arguably dull, but it’s beautiful to me.