Welcome to my photography blog, a place where I share not only portraits but other aspects of my photography.
New York City. She charms me, she amuses me and she beckons me back the minute I leave.
I love the pace.
And the new.
The streets above.
And the tracks below.
I soak up her history.
Including the parts that make me cry.
And I love how she shines.
The older I get, the more important it becomes for me to reconnect with the places and traditions of my childhood. Perhaps, it's a way of better understanding myself or maybe it's a way to pump the brakes on the stresses of middle age by reaching back to the days when I didn't have to worry about bills or taking care of elderly parents.
Picking fruit always reminds me of gathering, canning and freezing produce with mama when I was growing up. It seemed like such a chore back then. All of that washing, blanching and slicing. The heat of the kitchen when those jars were boiling on the stove and the endless bean snapping was miserable to a kid who would rather be roaming the countryside on a bicycle or playing in the shade. The year mama made enough homemade kraut to feed all of Massac County was almost my breaking point. My actual breaking point was passing out from the heat in the midst of some blackberry bushes and getting eaten up by chiggers while sitting in the grass waiting to feel well enough to walk back to the house. I stomped back into the house declaring that I would NEVER EVER pick blackberries again.
I'm glad for those experiences, now, and for the knowlege that I can make jellies and relishes and store garden tomatoes for chili and soups. Picking berries today is a way of remembering where I come from and reconnecting with those memories, and that's what I was thinking about yesterday morning while picking blackberries at Quint's in Massac County. The smell of the produce in my hands, the sweat on my neck and the sounds of nature brought back lots of childhood summer memories.
And Mr. Quint? He was one of my elementary school teachers. Reconnecting is good for the soul.
Thanks to the Quints for being so gracious and letting me take photos.
While Nashville has several diverse neighborhoods, lower Broadway reminds me of Las Vegas. It's a rich soup of the hopeful and the hopeless; those chasing dreams and those chasing the next drink. It's bright and shiny and fun to visit, but if you hang around long enough and look closely enough, you start to see both sides. Underneath the exterior of optimism and wild success is a layer of people living in disappointment. It fascinates me, and I can spend hours slipping among the crowds, in and out of bars, with a camera.
When wandering around in old buildings, there is always a story forming in my head about the people who used to inhabit those buildings. In fact, a photographer friend of mine jokes that I ALWAYS have a story for each location we visit and photograph. Old buildings give me inspiration and fuel my imagination, but as it turns out, that imagination wasn’t necessary on my last outing. That’s because I visited a school that my husband attended for a couple of years as a child. He loved that school, and when I told him where I had been, he started telling stories about his time there. He described every corner in great detail, bringing to life for me the building that now sits in disrepair. As he talked of lunch in the basement cafeteria, and Cousin Mary Lee’s loving role as head cook there, and playing in the upstairs gym, it was like turning black and white pages in my mind into colorful stories that jumped out of a book. It helped to soften the sadness I felt for a building that will eventually be torn down or lost to the elements of Mother Nature. Thankfully, it will live on in the memories of its former students and teachers.
I’m a firm believer that every person has a story. All you have to do is ask and most people will tell you their story. Humans of New York is an outstanding example of that. But I also believe that every place has stories to tell and that it’s the job of artists to find those stories. Every time I explore an old home site, my imagination wants to bring to life the people who used to be there. Who were they? Why did they leave?
I can stand inside of an abandoned school and hear the sounds of chalk on a board and the laughter of children. If I close my eyes I can smell the chalk. Standing inside of an old building in Hopkinsville that used to be a brothel, brought to mind imaginary tales of dingy bedrooms and the women who kept the town’s secrets.
Another place with stories to tell is the cemetery. While driving around the countryside to find photo opportunities, I often stop in cemeteries. You can tell a lot about people by the way they treat their dead. In fact, I almost always visit an old cemetery when traveling overseas or in the southern states. The dates on the head stones leave me wondering about children who died young, women widowed at an early age and old soldiers. But it’s not just the old graves that tell stories. Sometimes, the fresher graves have stories to tell, too, especially at the veterans’ cemeteries. Stories that stop you in your tracks when you stumble upon them shortly after Christmas.
Like the 31 year old soldier whose marker was covered in lipstick. Lip prints that accumulated over time.
Or the soldier whose stone held a cupcake and a card addressed to “Daddy” in the large printed scrawl of a young child.
The cupcake was in good shape, the container tinged with the frost of a chilly day.
How long before I stopped there had the child been there? Is Christmas without “Daddy” as painful as I think it is? And how many years will pass before this soldier’s story will sadly seem as common as those who have served decades before him?