— From journal. 8/28/1996

[This was about three years after Promenade was taken. I was part of a crafts show at work, where most of my prints sold.  It was the second time I had sold prints.  The first was to my friend Dirk, who later moved back to his home in Belgium.  The image I sold him was “Marsh” as I called it back then, and I did have a chance, when I visited him in Belgium, to see the large print framed and on his living room wall.

It was a wonderful feeling to see art travelling across to Europe.

When I wrote these notes, I was still at WCJ, I believe part-time.  But not sure about that.]

Yesterday — at work— woman comes up to me to have me sign photograph that she had had matted.  What a great pleasure that was — how delighted — how I played with the signature, like Art Carney waving his arms around before signing it.  Rob [co-worker] says to me as she’s walking away — “Is that extra?” and I say, “No.  I pay her to ask me to sign it.”

That is as close as I get these days to a great feeling!  

I went out there to Central Park on a cold rainy day — lugging the 4 x 5 [view] camera — and I had the shot in mind for weeks before —

And it was cold and rainy and I setup the shot — and waited.  I wanted the two people to get just to the right point on the horizon line — and be just small enough in the frame and click.  But I had to keep watching behind me as well in case someone else walked into the shot which would ruin it.  

And that was about as desolate and empty and sad a feeling and I got it.  I remember that I was humming the Funeral March from [hard to read but I think it was the Eroica] and when I printed it and shared it — yes — that mournful feeling was there.

For some reason I pooh poohed that picture at first — because there was something too pretty about it.  But I was very critical of myself back then [I’m more relaxed about my stuff these days] and had I been more honest, I would have thought it was just as inspired — and took as much work and luck — as anything else.  

Work and Luck.  You don’t control it all.  You may think that you do — but you can’t.  

You don’t realize it at first, but everything you shoot is a big, magnified version of yourself.  Do you know, for example, that in this shot, I had the idea of using musical themes?

[Okay.  This might be difficult to explain, but at the time, I had the idea that pictures should have more than one motif.  More than one tune.  Like a popular song, there should be the A part and the B part.  There should be the opening theme from the symphony, and some minor variations within the frame.  That what those two tiny people really were.  The B theme.  If you had the picture on your wall and looked at it every day, there should be something besides the overall composition to keep your interest.  At least those were the types of pictures I liked.]

My idea in the blog, is to select a few pictures, doesn’t matter when they were taken, and try to match them up with journal entries, that are related to the image, but not in terms of how the shot was done, but at a feeling level.  We’ll see how that works out.


Published by dave

I've been photographing New York, mostly in black and white, for the last 35 years. In other words, I began in the age of Tri-x and D-76 and eventually moved into the world of pigment ink. Enjoy your stay - Dave

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  1. Twice I’ve started a a journal and both times I quit after several months. The last time I used a voice recorder app for my tablet but after 4 months I decided to listen to a few and found my voice so annoying because of the lack of any bass in the recording. I’m thinking of beginning again at the first of the year either in written form or with a cassette deck and microphone.

  2. I have been keeping journals for most of my life. They are mostly therapeutic, filled with bouts of vertigo, intestinal issues; bitching and moaning, and every so often, ideas related to photography.

  3. Good to read your articles again, I used to read your “Black & White Photographer , I’ve got the Poet’s Walk in the snow version hanging on the wall above me as I write this, always enjoyed your articles there is a great story teller hiding inside you waiting to get out.

  4. Michael – thanks. There is a big epic story with a tragic ending that’s been hanging around a long time. Most of the people involved are either dead (now) or too old to really care. Plus, I’m not much of a researcher, so lot’s of it will be conjecture.

    However, starting with actual sentences that I wrote years ago; and combining them with pictures that are at least tangentially related; great way for me to start without embarrassing anyone but myself. (Which is fine and dandy with me). Stay tuned.

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