Tuesday, August 26, 2008

3rd Week in Maine

Arno had lots of fun random little assignments for us. We planned on taking a ferry over to Vinelhaven and the night before he gave us each a blank index card and we were to write down what we planned on photographing on the island and then return the card to him. This was more difficult than you would think, when you have never been to an area and have no idea what is there how can you know what you are going to photograph. I definitely tend to be more subject driven instead of relying on conceptual motivation. The only thought I had was to photograph my first reaction and then look for what contradicted that reaction. My first reaction was easy, I had arrived at some Scandinavian paradise from my memory (Even though I have never been to Scandinavia). It was so nostalgic there, a bygone era and lifestyle that had somehow eluded me. The image of the Yo-Yo ride from the previous week and the feeling it seemed to portray came to my mind and I decided to try and capture a similar emotion. The contradiction that I looked for was how normal details seemed. There was trash lining the harbor, there was a young skater going down the streets with pink hair, and people walking home from a grueling day harvesting lobster. It's interesting how nostalgia is so selective in its memory. We forget the day to day grind and the idiosyncrasies and focus on an emotion that feels so familiar and yet so unattainable because it is in our past. We would never allow our future to bear the fruits of our nostalgia because in the present all we seem to focus on is the petty and the problematic. We ignore the elements of our present that could become the nostalgia of our future. The picture that I liked the most was from a quarry that has filled with water and become the town swimming hole. I walked up to it and felt like I had just walked into a faint memory from my past. I did not have anything like this back home nor did I usually have the free time to enjoy the dog days of summer like this. Yet I felt like a wish from my childhood was being unveiled before my waking eyes. That is how I tried to capture it, to photograph the memory of the place not the place itself.
After returning to the mainland I wanted to continue this experiment but in a place I was more readily familiar and comfortable with. My focus was to try and photograph the location for how I would remember it more than how I saw it. A lot of my free time in Maine consisted of heading over to Timothy Whelan Photography and looking at photo books. Tim's is like my own personal kryptonite, I can't walk by his shop without spending money. Tim has a huge collection of photography books and original prints that you can peruse to your hearts content and I did just that, as often as possible. The third picture down is a self portrait of me doing exactly what I usually did at Tim's. I liked the key left in the open front door and how the focal plane followed along this key through the welcome mat and through my hands as they cradled the book. If I ever try to picture Tim's in my mind, these are the elements my memory holds on to.


Ryan Muirhead said...

I like the self portrait. Why are you reading "Richard Prince's guide to photographing photographs for dummies and hacks" though??

Mark Weinberg said...

ok...now the Maine memories are really flooding in.

Weston Colton Photo said...

I really like these...John (Telford) must hate them. The image of the boats in the bay is my favorite.

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