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.

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