Emotional Bookmarks

One of the things left behind when my mom passed were a series of journals that she kept sporadically. Not even sure how many there were but noticeable were huge gaps within each notebook. One was about how the plan was to send me to Columbus Academy after Jr. High. I vaguely remember a very formal sit down where I was asked about my thoughts. I was adamant that I wanted to remain at Grandview. Given my age, I’m sure my thought process was flawed. And it would have been as a day student so it wasnt like I would have gone away to board somewhere. But I couldn’t have imagined, at the time, leaving my buds for any reason. 

I found it odd that just months later, decisions were made without a sit down that displaced me so abruptly with no recourse. And for many years I was so angry.

This comes to me still when I take grateful account of where I am now and so appreciate how disruptive things are today and how to give it room to breathe. I woke last night at maybe 3am and could see out my window the southern sky, clear and crisp with all the familiar constellations in all their glory. I quietly climbed out of bed, went downstairs and found a home on a chair on my south facing deck. No lights anywhere to spoil the view of Nantucket Sound. I could hear the waves. And at that hour, I could see the airport tower light at Nantucket, thirty miles away, sweeping the sky. Flights leaving Both Kennedy, LaGuardia and Detroit heading for Europe came by now and again. Fewer, of course, but always in the same place. Right to left. Empty? Half full? Families reuniting? Business? 

So high up there was no sound. Just blinking lights. The color of those lights in the dark sky always reminds me that there is a story for every person on board. Passing unnoticed except for those, like me, who happened out in the dead of night to think about things like this. As a writer, I was always able to insinuate this kind of narrative. With a camera, I need to figure it out. 

Got a ways to go.

I enjoyed reading this last email of yours. Very thoughtful yet poignant. When you figure out how to inject that kind of narrative in a photograph, let me know. I am still working on that myself. Given the nature of the photographic process, I don’t know how to make a single image speak to a narrative. I just intuitively respond to the place or moment I am in at given time. Perhaps each image is a word and several related images become a sentence or a paragraph or even a short story. It not to say that a single powerful image can’t stand alone and have a strong message. But photography is different than writing. Even as I sit here, I dig into  my gray matter for the right words, drawing on whatever skills I might have for stringing together words to express what I am trying to say. With a camera I just respond. The narrative most often comes later, if there is one. With a camera, I don’t think, I just react. I have often said I consider my work to be an act of discovery. I have often called my images emotional bookmarks. There is a narrative to many of them, but perhaps I am the only one who knows the story.