It’s not very often that I get to the end of the week with everything checked off on my to-do list. Last Monday I saw a slight crack in the wall to wall schedule and made big plans to do some serious accomplishing. New work and anything that might distract me was immediately sent to the back burner.
It worked. I even managed to find moment to contribute to my local NPR station’s pledge drive. (Which you should too by the way.)
Things that had been hanging over my head since last Spring. I managed to connect with the owner of a restaurant owner that had rented nine of my large Italy photographs. Unfortunately the restaurant, fianco, had closed and we had been playing phone tag for months while I looked for a hole in my schedule to go pick them up when he would be in the now shuttered restaurant space.
I got the call on Friday and rushed over to get them. They were still on the walls where I had hung them 15 months earlier. Much of the restaurant hadn’t changed. Except that it was now empty. It did great business on the weekends, just not enough during the week to stay open during the rough economy.
Too bad. The food was great and I really liked the atmosphere there.
But at least those photographs will live to see another day. That was my favorite accomplishment of the week.
The one ongoing project that is still in progress and will be for at least a little while longer is my continuing project of going through all of my photograph shoots since about 1993.
I was trying to explain my process to another photographer friend of mine who happens to be touring Asia at the moment. She’s in the challenging position of traveling extremely light and having to edit, meaning delete, photos as she goes, since her storage situation is extremely limited. Even when I have all the comforts of shooting in my studio or somewhere where I can bring plenty of storage, my personal philosophy is to never delete anything.
It certainly means I have to maintain an incredible amount of storage, especially when after editing and color correction, it’s not unusual for my photographs to end up being, on average, a half a gigabyte in size. I’m doing the same thing I used to do for hours in the darkroom with dodging and burning the negatives, but with digital images being as high resolution as they are today, they can get enormous. At least my hands don’t smell like chemical fixer anymore though. It’s a tradeoff.
So back to the explanation of my never delete anything philosophy. One thing I’ve learned is when I edit a photoshoot immediately after the fact, I’m looking for a very specific kind of image. So during that first round of editing, I might pass over an image, temporarily rejecting it because it doesn’t fit the specific criteria I was looking for during the shoot.
However, going back through that same shoot months or even years later almost always reveals something I missed the first time. Time and distance give me fresh eyes and a better objective approach. Going back to the shoot so much later allows me to look at the images without the baggage of the moment of the shoot, good or bad. All I can see is what is in the frame, not what I was hoping to capture or what I thought I captured.
Here’s one of those previously overlooked images. I was at a Cubs game in May of 2004 with a colleague of mine. I was looking to make some beautiful pictures of Wrigley Field Cubs baseball in the beautiful summer sun. Unfortunately, it rained that day and only after a long delay the game finally got underway, but it was far from the beautiful day in the park I was hoping for. It was overcast and chilly.
I hadn’t really looked at that shoot since that day. I wrote it off as a bad weather day and left it at that. However, when I looked at those images over six years later, I saw something else beautiful. Instead of a flat color image, I saw a dramatic brooding B&W image. Completely different than what I was trying to do when I shot that game.
I’ve found a few hunded more found images like that which I will be adding to the website shortly. All passed over the first time. But a fresh look gives them all a second chance.
And speaking of second chances, an abandoned city block in my West Loop neighborhood suddenly has a new look. I love living in a city when a new park suddenly springs up from the rubble. A year ago a large abandoned building and an empty parking lot full of weeks. Today a beautiful park with a misting sculpture in the middle and a playground and dog park. The whole neighborhood now has a new hangout.
The photograph of the park at the top of this blog is one I made on the way home on Friday evening with my iPhone. A great way to end a great week.