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

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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A Fine Rabbit Hole


Well that was a fine rabbit hole you got me to jump down. I hadn’t looked at that folder in years, and clearly it had been edited down, as I recall many more of the images from those 2 shoots. And it was also interesting to see the panoramic image of the cemetery. I believe most of the film I shot for you is long gone, save these. I started by wanting to scan only an image or two of the YMCA, but then got caught up in wanting to see them all come to life. They were never printed in the darkroom. These days scanning gives me my darkroom fix, without the stinky chemicals. With scanning I can also make a superior image, as I can do so much more with film in the digital darkroom than I ever could in the analog dark room. So it was fun to see what these negs really looked like. The Y negs date to 1990. I particularly like that portrait of you. I didn’t recognize you until I enlarged it. But you are wearing a hat and sporting a beard. And your face in engulfed with smoke from your cigarette. It is very cool.

What a blast from the past. Interestingly enough, this is the kind of project I keep meaning to do. I have 1000s of negs like this that have never seen the light of day, never printed. From all over the place. When I got my scanner back in 2003, I got a good one, an Imacon, to scan client stuff mostly, but also for future work on my archives of personal work. I haven’t really made the time to scan as often as I would like, as it tends to be labor intensive. There is a ton of time just cleaning up and that’s a pain. Your stuff is only lightly cleaned up. When I scan now, I tend to clean up as needed, like if I am making a print, or it is to be published. But this was fun, so thank you for reconnecting and pushing my creative buttons.

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At 17


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At 22


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At 32


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At 40


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At 50


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At 60


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At 65


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