It's the journey, not the destination Mel Curtis's thoughts on a life in the world of photography

Beautiful in a Haunting Way

UVillage_6May20_060

David,

Attached is a contact sheet to get you something to look at. The high res files are on my website for you to download. To give you some context of the work, the first 4 images on the contact sheet show the origins of the current project. I have been interested in out of focus imagery for over 20 years. The first 2 book covers show early explorations. Since the process is somewhat hit or miss, it was difficult in those days, working with film to get just the right image. Too out of focus and it was an abstract composition. Not out of focus enough and it looked like a badly focused photo. I wasted a lot of film in those days. The annual report in 2015 renewed my interest in the method. Digital allows you to make adjustments on the fly which is very useful given my subject tends to be moving targets. The 4th image shows an example of what I did personally after the annual project was completed. Over the years, my gallery at the Seattle Art Museum has had strong interest in the works. I was preparing 3 new prints for them when the pandemic hit and everything shut down. The framing materials sit in the corner of my studio. I wanted to do new work, to see what the empty streets looked like, but was reluctant at first to venture out alone at night with an expensive camera. Finally in early May I asked a friend to drive me around, so I could photograph from the safety of my car. Most of the previous work I was on foot. Being in a moving car changed the dynamics a bit. I had to respond quickly and initiatively. But it also allowed me to cover more ground.  At first I stayed near my home, about 5 miles from downtown Seattle. One rainy night I decided to head downtown. All I can say is that it was eerie. A ghost town. Yet beautiful in a haunting way. Like wandering around an amusement park at night after closing. Lights on, nobody home. The biggest difference between the older and new work is the lack of human activity. All the work still conveys a sense of order and beauty. What has struck me these past few months is that for all the bad craziness that has been going on, there is still beauty in the world, both natural and urban. I walk my dog in a beautiful park down the street from me and all seems normal. Then I turn on the television or internet and have this disconnect. So I use my camera to try and make sense of it all. To somehow bring order to a chaotic world.

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