Maybe it's because I'm focused visually when I'm working, but I find it comforting to be in places where the people around me are speaking another language. Overhearing Americans talk while traveling can also be comforting, but mostly it spoils the notion of solitary exploration. People usually assume I'm a Japanese tourist, so most of the time I can eavesdrop on conversations.
While in a butcher shop in the Chianti wine region (the shot above is actually from different butcher shop a few towns away), I heard two women talking. Not one to make small talk (and thereby ruin others' notion of solitary exploration), I couldn't get over the fact that they sounded like Milwaukeeans. And not the cartoonish Fargo movie version of a Midwestern accent, but a subtle intonation that I thought I recognized. "Are you from Wisconsin?," I asked. And sure enough, both women lived about 5 miles from my house.
david, numero due replica © kjm
The first and only other time I was in Florence, it was on a college graduation, sweatshirt-wearing European trip with cheap wine-seeking buddies. Of Florence, I only remember two things - enjoying some tasty bread and cheese while our group argued about something, and being exhausted while visiting the Uffizi. I was tired and a bit museumed out by this point in the trip, but then I rounded a corner and everything changed in front of Da Vinci's Annunciation.
mom on the front step last summer © kjm
Happily, I've just arrived in Florence, Italy. But it was a bit disappointing leaving home yesterday morning, as the whole family (minus Marilu) were in town. My brother, sister, their partners and my nephews all drove in to attend a golden anniversary party for our closest family friends. All the bedrooms were occupied, the refrigerator was stuffed, cards were played, and the favorite local pizza was ordered. If my dad were still alive, he would've done a much better job of parking all the cars in the driveway. Best of all, though, I think my mom was thrilled to have a full house again.
I'm working on editing the Camp Home pictures, which is proving to be a bit harder than expected. My intention is to make a first broad edit of about 50 pictures, which will eventually be further winnowed down. I pride myself on being a good editor of my own work, but I find this more difficult than sifting through an editorial assignment or smaller personal projects. The criteria for selection is multi-layered, and I'm trying to balance aesthetic qualities with content and the element of symbolism. And these are some of the most personal pictures I've ever made, so that makes it harder to be completely neutral. The "ownership" I feel with these pictures is strong, and I feel a kind of larger responsibility in releasing them.
All that said, it's an incredibly gratifying, if excruciating task, and I'm loving every minute of it.
Labels: camp home
(Salman Rushdie, 1999) © chris buck
I love this photo by the photographer Chris Buck. On his website, Buck tells the backstory to some of his wonderful portraits. About this shot of Salman Rushdie, he writes:
"When I was given this assignment, I was asked not to tell anyone about it. When you're told something like that, the first thing you want to do is tell people. But I couldn't, and I thought about it as a sort of test to see if I could not tell anyone. My parents, girlfriend, office manager, nobody, I didn't tell anybody. I didn't know how seriously to take the fatwa. What if I told someone and they told someone and they told someone... and I have him posing, looking out a window and someone shot him in the face? It wouldn't look good."
Labels: i love this photo
A few months ago, Marilu and I got a flat tire while driving from Winslow to Phoenix. After being a bit rattled by the blowout, we both thought, "Where's Amy Stein when you need her?" We were happy to be alive and would have gladly sat for a photo. Along that same train of thought...
If the overgrown mess that is my "backyard" catches fire this summer, I'd call Larry Schwarm before I call 911. The next time I go backpacking, I'd like to have Jill Greenberg along. If she's photographing the bears, they can't eat me. But if I'm on a tamer hike in Arizona, maybe Mark Klett will come along to photograph some saguaro cactus. If I were a rock star, I'd hope that Jim Herrington would meet up with me on the road somewhere between gigs. I don't usually set a formal table, but if I did, I'd let Laura Letinsky in after a meal to do her thing. On an epic cross country road trip, I'd save room in my car for Stephen Shore and Timothy Briner. If there was no car involved, I'd want Mike Brodie to watch my back. If I were a hipster L.A. actor, I'd tell my publicist that only Amanda Friedman could photograph me. Lastly, God forbid, if my freelance work ever dried up, I'd want Phillip Toledano to photograph my deserted office.
When we get lots of rain, like we have for the past few days, a part of my living room wall leaks. What's nice about living in an industrial space, though, is that water finds itself quickly to a big central floor drain. But some things lie in its path, like the ever-present stacks of magazines I tend to hoard. Above, a detail from the water-soaked November 2007 issue of PDN.
It's my blog, and I can post cute cat pictures if I please. (But don't worry, this won't become a trend.)
This is my mom's cat Caramel, basking in some beautiful light while giving me the look that Marilu describes as, "You've got two hands - why aren't you petting me?" Caramel occasionally vacations at my house and will, without a doubt, go down in the feline history books as a giant among companions.
I'm excited that I'll be attending the summer portfolio review at Photolucida in July. The reviewers for this particular event are all from the Northwest and West, and I'm eager to show my Camp Home series, which has its roots in the story of west coast Japanese American communities. During the war, the Tule Lake internment camp became home to residents of Washington, Oregon and California.
This will be my first review, and I'm seeking the advice of friends and beginning to prepare. Among other things, I'm printing some small books - to be able to show work more informally than the prints I'll also be bringing. This is my first attempt at books like this, and I have to say, they've been fun to design. For the most part, I'm pleased by the quality of the iPhoto books from Apple (above), but I'm thinking of trying out Blurb as well - any suggestions?
© associated press/chris carlson
Even though he was sleeping through most of the fanfare, I'm thrilled to know that my 5-year-old nephew was present to witness some history last night in St. Paul. When he entered the arena with my sister and brother-in-law, the Obama button under his little coat set off the metal detector. He had picked it out himself, and it read, "Let's Get To Work." Amen to that.