My chair is the one in the background.
We were out of town yesterday. Ben and I came back late last night and hit our beds. I woke up at sunrise this morning and Studio Dog and I went out for a walk before the sun had a chance to heat up the pavement and make its presence felt. While I was walking I was daydreaming about all the places that I'd like to go to and take photographs. I'd like to head back to Lisbon, I can never get enough of Rome and I haven't been to Istanbul in years. I thought about all the photo opportunities that might present themselves and when I got back to the house and started to make coffee I remembered an essay I'd read in Brooke Jensen's wonderful book, Let Go of the Camera. In it he tells about his pilgrimage to Point Lobos to take large format landscape images like Edward Weston. In the end he realizes that there was really nothing special about Point Lobos, there was something special about Edward Weston and the way he saw things.
Weston probably returned dozens and dozens of times to the famous park mostly because it was available to him. He was able to infuse the scenes with his vision and his point of view. He distilled his feelings about his vision over time and then overlaid them onto the subject matter at hand.
With this in mind I started to look around my own dining room and kitchen, noticing the play of shadow and light. Noticing the juxtaposition of shapes and objects. I realized that "where ever you go, there you are." (Buckaroo Bonzai). I finished a particularly fine cup of coffee and went out to the car to rescue a camera I'd left there last night. I went into the studio and grabbed a small tripod and then I came back in and started looking for images that just "felt right" to me.
The first series of images are of my dining room chair. Belinda painted and finished these chairs about 20 years ago and they've been part of my family's dining experience for the entire 18 years that we've spent raising Ben. The dining room has a set of double French doors on the South side of the house. In the mornings they get soft, diffuse, indirect light. The light makes soft shadows. I like my chair images because they extend back into their space, and they also anchor my feelings about family meals and being together and also of being apart.
I am always careful not to bump or scrape the wall behind me. Not everyone is as careful.
We'll need to repaint that wall sooner rather than later.
I turned my camera to our living room and tried to capture the feeling of the wide open space and the tall ceilings with light pouring through from both sides of the house. I spend a lot of high quality time sitting on that couch writing and laying on that couch, reading. Ben and his friends move the furniture around a lot so they can all crowd around the big screen and play video games. It disturbs my sense of order but we each bend to make life comfortable for one another.
I took photographs of a long hall but they didn't feel like much to me. I was looking for something else. I photographed my white chair. It sits in our bedroom and in the afternoons the French doors let in beautiful light. It's indirect and then diffused through thin, white curtains.
I bought this chair when we moved into our house years ago. For a long time my lovely black and white cat staked it out as her territory and defended it against all comers. She was gracious enough to share it with me if I would let her sit in my lap and if I remembered to scratch gently under her chin. She lived to be 20 years old and her last days were spent lounging in this chair.
A few years after her passing we got a puppy who prefers to be known on the blog as, Studio Dog. The chair has passed to her and she settles in for naps there in the afternoon, and after she gets Ben to bed at night and makes sure he's sleeping she hustles back down the long hall and curls up again in the chair, positioned just right so that she can keep a watchful eye on me. Occasionally Belinda gets to use the chair to read in. It's usually at a time when Ben and his horde of friends have taken over the living room and the sound levels rise at that end of the house. The chair has a matching ottoman and my favorite portrait of Ben as a very young child was taken while he was sitting on it. Funny how many stories my chairs seem to have...
I'm not sure about anyone else but I have "favorite" articles of clothing and prefer them to everything else. This Summer I got a new shirt and no one seems to like it but me. It's plaid and that may be the problem. Most of my artist friends still dress in black. The shirt is made out of a special, lightweight technical fabric that breathes, wicks away moisture and is ultimately comfortable. My new shirt even has its own SPF rating. It's 50 SPF. I guess that means my shirt won't get sunburned easily.
If you read the blog on a regular basis you know that I walk. A lot. With cameras. All that walking demands good walking shoes. I've done enough impromptu walks in flip flops to know that the right footware makes the whole photo exploring a whole lot more comfortable. I've been in a shoe upgrade mood this Summer and upon evaluating some my old standbys I was amazed at how worn down they'd before.
Life is full of little doodads and trinkets. My night stand seems to attract old phones, old watches and reading glasses of every variety.
It was a calm and fun project to just walk around and make photographs that are tremendously local. It's probably good to get out of the mindset that we can only take wonderful images at far flung travel destinations. It's a bit desperate to start searching out the geographic locations that others have shot well and then try to put your tripod down in the same spot and make a variant of someone else's vision. My experiment didn't produce anything I want to put in a frame or in a portfolio but it's a start.
As it is August I've started inviting friends over for informal portrait sessions. A fun fantasy: What if all your art could be done in your own studio and in the borders of your own home? What a time saver that might be....