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

Summer Falls Power Plant May 1985


SummerFallsPowerPlant_May1985v2Check this out. The film was incredibly clean and scanned like a charm. I forgot to ask you what size you wanted, so this probably bigger than you need. I hope it doesn’t make your email box explode. If you need me to resize, let me know. I am sure this is the money shot, as it is the only frame with rocks in the foreground. See how it compares to your print. It is interesting that the binder is all black and white work done for Phil, so various projects. There are several contact sheets of Summer Falls work, but only this shot and 2 others have film. Essentially the important stuff. The other film will probably turn up, as I still have a couple of banker boxes of loose miscellaneous film I never got around to filing away properly. But at least I got my hands on this gem. Thanks for giving me a  reason to get off my butt and do something cool.

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Am I Where I Want to Be?


On February the first, 1984, I arrived in Seattle. 35 years ago today. I had always wanted to live on the west coast, and had a fondness  for Seattle, having visited here several years prior. I thought I might live here for a few years and then drift back east to be closer to family and old friends. But as the years went on, the more in love I became with the Pacific Northwest and here I am. I have often thought about the trials and tribulations that have brought me to this point and the different paths I have journeyed down to get here. What an interesting voyage it has been. I recently imagined my older self having a conversation with that wide eyed young man upon his arrival in Seattle all those years ago. I would give him the highlights and maybe a few lows of what was to come. I am sure my younger self would be amazed, surprised and probably dumb founded. I would allow that young man to ask three questions about what my life would be like in my older age. It would not be about fame and fortune but rather quite simply, Am I happy? Am I healthy? And am I where I want to be? Without hesitation, the elder me would say yes. No further details would be necessary, my life could remain an act of discovery.

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Seattle in Winter

10_Rowers on the Cut-2012

While the midwest braces for brutal winter cold, the daffodils are getting ready to bloom in the northwest. I have always liked winter here, perhaps because I grew up in Ohio and lived through many, many cold winters. It is always mild here and snow is somewhat rare. It is a more civilized winter that allows me to take long morning walks with Barney. It is often, like today, cold but sunny, with blue skies. So I don’t mind the brisk chill. the mountains are out, and folks enjoy the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. It is why I moved here.

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Our House

OurHouse_20Nov18_087v3Is a very, very, very fine house. It is also in the middle of our street.

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Christmas Eve 2018


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And the Little Dog will be Happy too






I thought you might like these. I do this thing called OurHouse, where I grab the camera and run around the house, the studio, the yard and just document it. No cleaning up, just snap shots of what things look like. I do it about 3 or 4 times a years or when ever. I did this last week, during Thanksgiving weekend. I thought the leaves from the Japanese Maples created a lovely carpet and the next day the lawn guy was coming to make things all clean for the winter. The pots on the deck contain daffodils and they are already popping up. Climate change at work? I leave the Japanese grasses in for the winter as they have a nice golden color. Along around March or so I cut them out. The blue tile patio you can see beyond the deck I hope to demo out this winter. Besides being ugly it has always been slippery when wet and treacherous in snow. The long term plan is to make the whole back yard artificial turf, since grass doesn’t grow there well. And no it won’t look like a soccer field. I have seen some really cool turfs that look pretty real. And the little dog will be happy too.

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The Less Stressful Option


Thanks for talking to me about my little issue. It is always nice to hear your opinion, I value it. I was a little surprised when you said you usually agree with me and then I argue with you. I have never seen our discussions as arguments. In the future I will be more thoughtful and try to deal with stuff myself. Just lately I have had a few incidents that have made me feel disrespected or unappreciated. But that has always been the plight of the artist. My work has never been just a service or a commodity. My ego and self worth is all wrapped up in what I do. And it has always been hard to separate. So even after all this time I still  get fired up when someone dismisses my work. Then I step back and realize it is just a piece of paper or so much digital data, and a lot of folks don’t really care. And I can’t beat them into submission. I can’t make them value or care about what I do. So I quietly retreat and move on. Which is what I am doing with the symphony. I am just going to wait for the check to arrive, put it in my bank and move on. In the long run that is the less stressful option.

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Rhythms and Rituals


Everyday I walk my little dog Barney, through the neighborhood. And most days I see the little old Japanese man with his big white dog. We don’t talk much, but usually say hello. It is a nice part of my day, to connect with other dog people and just enjoy being out in the fresh air. I have become quite hooked on my morning walk, as I am sure Barney is. Much like my morning coffee or sitting by the fire on a damp winter evening, I find this little habit to be something meaningful, if only in a small way. I like the idea of daily rituals and rhythms. I like going to my studio every day and making art, I like laying out plantings in the spring in my garden. It seems that without such little moments, my life would be dull. I like recalling my daily rituals when I worked in Rome or traveled to see my folks in Ohio. And while those moments are long gone, the memories of them are still very fresh in my mind. I will always have them.

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Hey, Good to See You


I have mixed feelings about being there. Like you, I felt unappreciated, I just got to feel it in person. But seeing my photos everywhere, of bright shining faces, made me feel good, even if no one acknowledged my contribution to this organization. The best part was seeing alumni students there that I had photographed, one twelve years ago, they recognized me, said hey, good to see you.

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The World is on to Other Parties


Happy Birthday. Welcome to the officially old club…

Funny thing about age. When you are young you want to grow up, and now that I am older, I sorta want to be younger. Maybe not so much younger, I like where I am right now, but I wish I could freeze time and be in this place for another 10 or 15 years. I think….

Funny too, when I was younger, especially right out of college how intimidated I was by older folks. They knew so much more than me, and would I ever have their knowledge? And here I am now, intimidated by the youngsters and wonder if I will ever have their knowledge? Weird.

Just recently I came to think of my life as a party or an event I was hosting. There is all this preparation, anticipation and hopes and desires for a successful event. You hope you doing all the right things, and that people will show up and that it will be fun and enjoyable. You worry about people not showing up or will it be boring and food lousy… You cross your fingers and open the doors. At first it is quiet and you wonder if any one is going to be there. Then the first few arrive and you get to chatting, eating, carrying on. Soon the place is jammed and buzzing. You try to talk to everyone, but the important thing is that it is all working. Folks are enjoying your party, or your art if it is an opening. But then the next thing you notice is that things start to quiet, and the room begins to empty and despite the success of it all, you don’t want it to stop, you want to hold on to it forever. It’s like, wait, we’re just getting started, it can’t be over. I feel like my life is kind of like that. Like there were all those of years of working to get to this place where you feel good about things, and in this case I am speaking about my work life and not my personal life. But then suddenly the party is over. And I go wait a minute, I am done done yet. I finally know what I am doing. But it doesn’t seem to matter. The world is on to other parties.

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