Thursday, March 21, 2013

Notes From the Field -- Reboot

When I started my 30 year career as a commercial photo tech in the big city, it was in the company of veteran lab rats intimately acquainted with the vicissitudes of professional craft as applied on a time critical basis.

Appropriately, these were called "craftsmen".

During that 30 years the Digital Age dawned.

The earth shook and the skies grew wild as old ways disappeared into the whirlwind of progress, from which there's no return for the past.

Then the day came when decades of high level performance got paid off with casual insult and I'd seen enough to know it'd only ever get worse and there'd be no better end, so I said screw it and walked away.

Out of a job and flat out of career prospects, later that day only one thought dominated:

I'll never again work under crushing deadline except by choice.

And more than a decade later here I am, having spent the last 19 months producing comprehensive, cross-discipline product from scratch and just as fine as I can make it, considering the running Digital Age deadline of 'live'.

Maybe one can't teach an old dog new tricks after all, despite new fields of play...

This is a job traditionally done in isolation.

Had I engaged this fieldwork even a few short years ago, I'd have spent as much time, traveled as many miles, shot the same film at the same locations and not talked much about any of it along the way.

After which I'd have poured over the images and sifted through accumulated stacks of notes & prose, encouraging each to carry me back to a moment captured with purpose upon a highly specific landscape.

Then in order to fashion this pile of gathered stuff into a coherent body of work possessed of cogent context, I'd consider everything about it and at my own pace would make it all into a new thing. Maybe another year or so of concentrated effort, or at any rate until satisfied.

Only then would I let it loose upon the wind.

This being now not then, blogging changed everything. Except I still have on my hands this pile of gathered stuff and already partly formed, too.

In order to do something with it, I'll first have to not juggle quite so much. Me spitting into the digital wind and trusting to faith won't cut it because while I like being able to juggle, I set out to do much more and don't trust the void one bit.

Giving this work its best chance to last requires I revise the workflow and again shrug off deadline pressure, so I can revisit old ways in order to craft something new and more tangible than ether.

From the beginning of this Odyssey and throughout, I've worked from a list of subjects. That list grew as our travels assumed a narrative that gained definition mile by mile, through an organic process of exploration & discovery intrinsic to quality time spent on the road.

There's more yet to come, both of list and exploration, but a good bit of it requires surpassing effort on my part, as some nuts are just plain tough to crack.

To accommodate that as well as my backstage efforts to make what I intended of this gig, we'll slow things down a bit. From here on I'll post new material at least once a month, which means we're likely to remain on this digital journey together for a good deal longer than was originally planned.

Of all the images gathered during our travels, the two used here today have become emblematic for me of where we've been and where we're headed. This narrative promises to only deepen and grow richer as we go.

It's a distinctly American story. I hope and trust you'll stick around to see this project through.

So with that in mind, please drop in on Thursday April 4th, when we'll relax the pace and complete this current trek through the Porcupine Mountains with a story so unlikely you might think I've made it up.

But it's true, all the same...

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