tinytinygroupshow, #4

For your tiny viewing pleasure, a new show of work from photographers focusing on themselves as subject - a view, sometimes physically and always introspectively, from Arm's Length.

[ tinytinygroupshow is a mini electroexhibit of photographs based around a basic theme. There are no gallery hours, price lists, commissions, lengthy wall texts or attractive gallery attendants. tinytinygroupshow is a place to have a brief look at some photography, by photographers known and unknown, in a manner that hopefully provokes a little thought. View past tinytinygroupshows here. ]

Note: you might need to click on your screen a second time to enlarge the show


nearly forever

The Fridge Door © kjm

We have a saying in our family: "Dad always thought things should last forever."

And he was mostly correct, I think, in the days when you wouldn't just toss in the garbage any distressed small appliance that didn't have an Extended Guaranteed Extra Special Warranty.

Dad would've been proud to know that the family refrigerator lasted from about 1970 until yesterday afternoon. In the end, it probably deserved a nickname to itself ("Old Frosty?") and was likely sucking enough energy to run a small village.


i love this photo, #13

© Dinu Li

I love this photo by the British Chinese photographer Dinu Li. The image is from a series documenting visits with his mother to places in her native China. Here's a description, from the photographer's website: "Uncompromising in my intensified depictions, my primary concern is to stimulate thoughts of our existence and the passing of time. This I reveal by looking at one's identity, memories and life journeys, be it physical or psychological. My work questions both what is revealed in the frame and what is not. "

In looking at the work, I can't help but think that Dinu Li and I share some of the same creative motivations, driven by memory and family. For this reason, finding the photos was a wonderful surprise - and one that was courtesy of the Asian Photography Blog by Ch'ng Yaohong. It's a wonderful site, always showing fresh and interesting work, and encompassing all that is good in the world of photography blogs.


as seen: lots of bouncy potential

© kjm

Super balls in a quarter machine, Chicago.


a1, below the fold

© James Rajotte for The New York Times

Standing in line for coffee this morning, I was struck by this photograph on the front page of the New York Times. It accompanied a story titled, Old Enough Now to Hear How Dad Died at War.

We've become accustomed to seeing a standard picture of grieving subjects - where the person is shown holding a framed photo of their departed loved one. I'm not saying that's not a valid photograph to make (I've done it myself), but there's a forced drama to that type of image. In a journalistic sense, I suppose that type of shot contains all the important elements - the photograph tells a story without much need for a caption.

But this image is so much more subtle than that - with a sense of mystery and underlying emotion. And though it's technically a portrait, I think there's a wonderful moment captured here, most notably in the look on the mother's face.

Kudos to The Times for hiring James Rojette - who I hadn't heard of before - for the assignment. From his website, it looks like he's fresh out of graduate school.


as seen: from home

Bathroom Window at 6:08 Tonight © kjm

Happily back home after a near month of travel - processing pictures like crazy and catching up on issues of business, mold, mail, and life.


elusive fleas

© kjm

I was hoping to find a good Sunday flea market while in Lisbon, but it turns out the best one, referred to as "The Thieves' Market" (watch for bargains + watch your wallet) is held on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I'm not sure why it's not held on Sundays, as that seems to be the universal day of choice.

I just wrapped up a long and fun week of shooting here, and after changing hotels yesterday, wandered around the neighborhood in search of a late day coffee. Luckily, I stumbled onto a tiny park with a small, stealth flea market under a shady row of trees.


a picture and some words, #3

Left: Window of a closed-down hair salon, Lisbon, Portugal. © kjm
Right: Lyric from I Ran, by A Flock Of Seagulls



Water, Cascais, Portugal © kjm

I was thinking recently about distance. Particularly about how much distance, physically, lies between us and others at any given time. This came to mind while standing in the woods in Oregon, not hearing any cars, not hearing any people, not hearing any planes. My friend Steve was up ahead somewhere on the trail, but I felt wonderfully isolated with the big trees and the wind.

Wouldn't it be interesting to determine the exact time in your life when you were physically the farthest away from another human being? For example, Neil Armstrong's taking a step on the moon wouldn't count, since Buzz Aldrin was just inside Apollo 11. A bit extreme, but you get what I mean... I've been to some fairly remote places, but always in the company of others. How often are we really, truly isolated?

One day, when Google gains complete World Dominance, maybe we'll be able to do a search on our own life's history...


new landscapes

© kjm

Marilu has a phrase she uses when discussing a possible travel destination: "I've never been there..." It can be applied to locales great and small, and here in print, important intonation is lost: think of an excited adventurer unrolling a set of antique maps, or perhaps a dog with the look, "Are you gonna eat that?" It's curious and hopeful and embodies the qualities of a great travel mantra. It also reminds me of how my Dad used to proudly say, "You were there," emphasizing destinations of our early family trips.

Above, October 7, morning in Lisbon, Portugal. I've never been here before...


subjects and subject matter

BB Guns In the Bunkhouse (top); Jar in Abandoned Hunting Lodge (bottom)
© kjm

Two more pictures from this past week, and I promise I'll stop for a while. A reader posted a comment on the photo below, mentioning the bullets on the windowsill. So thought I should talk about my motivation in the picture making. Originally, I had the idea to photograph exteriors of the buildings - the iconic shape of the barracks is recognizable, and the changes and modifications over the years were fascinating. Then, just a week before I was to be at Tule Lake, I found out that another photographer, Andrew Freeman, had produced a book of similar work. The pictures were from the Manaznar Internment Camp, not Tule Lake, and there are some differences in how I was going to approach the pictures. Nonetheless, I was deflated.

But I realized after arriving, that I want the pictures to show human engagement with the buildings - evidence of lives lived and a space reused, after it's initial, unfortunate purpose. My choice of subject matter isn't intended to have an edge or commentary, but to try to show that human element. Cameras weren't allowed in the internment camps, so there's a void in the Japanese American family album. And though none of these things - baseball caps, jars on shelves - were things that belonged to my family, they still represent the lives once lived there.


mind if i come in?

Jess' Kitchen Sink
© kjm

This new project has me treading on some new creative ground. My personal work has always been a very solitary affair, mostly me by myself, making pictures. Lately, the Early Places work is intentionally created while I'm alone, and the Fast Food pictures are usually made when I happen onto closed restaurant. In my magazine work, it's quite the opposite - people are expecting my visit, and they know that the photos I make will end up in a magazine.

Contrast that with the act of driving unfamiliar back roads, knocking on doors, and asking people if you can photograph their house...

So I was a bit nervous going in, but everyone I met was friendly and willing to help. And I came to realize that the uncertainty, the interaction, the sharing of stories about the land and about family - this is a crucial part of the project. This is, after all, about family history, and about a specific place. I talked for hours about farming and the land - things I knew little of. People responded to my questions and curiosity with a surprising openness.

The best example might be the Prosser siblings (John, Judy, and Frank) who, in the midst of harvesting potatoes, allowed me photograph in their late father's house, which was once an internment camp barracks. I had a bit of difficulty explaining why photographs of his kitchen sink meant something to me and my work, but they were gracious and open.


working title: camp home series

© kjm

I've been in California the past few days, beginning a new project. In May, I came to the site of the Tule Lake internment camp, where my dad's family lived for part of WWII. On that visit, I assumed I'd find a memorial, and hoped to at least visit where the camp once stood. But I learned that many buildings from the camp still stand - some, former military quarters, form a small subdivision on the camp grounds. And the barracks, used to house families like mine, were dispersed to returning veterans, as part of a homesteading program in the newly irrigated surrounding land.

I was only passing through that day, but decided to return to photograph the buildings in their current state. There were a few creative roadblocks in the past weeks (more on that soon), but I've been on the ground and making pictures for the past three days. I'm not completely sure of how to talk about the work in a concise manner, but it feels completely right to be here - driving small county roads, meeting nice people, and sharing stories about the past.

The buildings dot the landscape here - some have been remodeled and lived in as houses since the 40's, while others were used for storage or outbuildings. And while there are hundreds in the area, I can't escape the idea that one of them might have been my dad's home, if only for a short time.