Posts Tagged ‘TLR’
Change Islands, The Great Fogo Island Punt Race to There and Back…
Today, I am giving a presentation on the links between research, photography and librarians/curators/archivists at the annual Newfoundland and Labrador Library Association conference.
This post is sort of a resource post to back up some of the things I say in that talk. So if you are a regular reader, I hope you find it useful. If you are coming here for the first time as a result of the talk, welcome…
Haggerty, Kevin. “Ethics Creep: Governing Social Science Research in the Name of Ethics.” in Qualitative Sociology.
Farm Security Administration collection at the Library of Congress (Really??? In 2013 you have a website that looks like that???)
The Fogo Process webpage at the University of Guelph that is now a home for the Snowden Collection
Greg Lock’s Journey into a Lost Nation
Jamie Lewis’s They Let Down Baskets
I have this story idea I’ve been meaning to pursue and no time to actually do it. However, here is a quick look at a first little vignette. I was going to create a fancy slideshow with an audio, but there are not that many photographs and, besides, I get bored looking at those slideshows, so here is an audio file and a selection of photographs from Fogtown Barber and Shop. Press play (less than 4 minutes):
Family Barber shop Chris refers to in the story was one of those St. John’s institution that has been a mainstay of downtown for decades and it closed sometime in 2011. This is the only photograph I made of it although I have been getting my haircut there since we moved to St. John’s. The barber in the photo is Ted.
Russian sailors exploring the streets of St. John’s.
Recently, a full-time photojournalism position opened at a local daily. I considered applying. For years, that was the kind of job I really wanted. It was the only job I wanted. And then it struck me that I don’t want that job any more. Or at least, I don’t want the job that I would be asked to do. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about where, when and why my own view of what photojournalism should be diverged from what photojournalism is. Some of it has to do with technology, but there are other and more important things, too.
The imaging technology has changed dramatically and I am bored to death with it. I am bored with new digital cameras. I am bored with megapixels and neverending upgrade cycles. I am bored with HD video. I am particularly bored with videos that start out out of focus and then slowly bring into focus some mundane and usually irrelevant object or a generic street scene. I am bored by partially desaturated images. Entire newspapers filled with portraits bore me to tears. I am not bored, but offended by HDR – it’s just kitsch of the worst kind. I am also offended by selective colouring. I know, it was done in the 1920s as well as today. It was bad then and it’s bad now. Please let it die and please, please don’t publish it in daily newspapers. I am bored with journalists who are trying to be cool on twitter and I am bored with the publications that are forcing their writers and photographers to become celebrities. I am embarrassed to read tweets by local, national and international reporters passing themselves off as some sort of experts on one thing or another.
It’s never a good thing when a journalist becomes a story. The details are usually either sordid or horrifying and almost always a result of an unchecked ego better suited to some other professions. It’s cool to see your name in print, but a byline or a photo credit is where it should end. Just look at the two latest controversies in the world of photojournalism: the Paolo Pellegrin photo from an ill-conceived Magnum Rochester project (here, here, here) and the debate over this year’s World Press Photo winner Paul Hansen’s post-processing of the winning photograph (here and here). None of this did any good to anybody. It’s important to discuss and draw attention to, but it does no good. Somehow photojournalism stopped being about stories.
Local daily is a great example of that. At least once a week, the front page features a photo of some poor bastard dragged into or out of a courtroom. For the rest of the week we have people staring at us from the front page. I can’t figure out what that contributes to the readers’ understanding of the news the journalists and the editors obviously thought important enough to cover and print that day. It’s easy to criticize daily photojournalists. The pressures to produce something out of thin air is huge and the job is becoming more stressful than ever. Deep down, I never was a daily photographer anyway. My heart had always been, even before I knew that, in long-form story telling both visual and narrative.
Over the last few weeks, my wife dug out a set of 6×4 prints I gave her years ago. We always thought we should work on some sort of a collaborative project, but between kids, grad studies, moves and jobs there was no time for that. She pulled them out now and it is fascinating to watch these photographs come alive as poetry, essays, mini-plays and short stories. Then last Friday, I had one of those moments that reminded me what is that I love so much about photography. That story started almost two years ago.
My MA thesis supervisor invited me and the family to come with her and her husband to a small reunion held on Fair Island, a resettled island community off the east coast of the main island of Newfoundland. Her husband’s family were Fair Islanders. It was August, but the weather was miserable. Nonetheless, we went and we had great time. I made some photographs and posted one of them here. The photograph I liked the most was the one at the top of this post. Context is important here. The photograph (in my mind anyway) is called “A pipefitter and a gaming executive make fish in a resettled community.” What you see here are not two fishermen, although I suspect both of them would be happier if they were fishermen. What you see is two people with roots deep in a community that does not exist any more engaged in an activity that is crucial to their identity, but it is meaningless economically. For me, this is in many ways a quintessential Newfoundland small island photograph. Except, this past Friday I found out that this is not the most interesting or the most important photograph I made that day.
Sometime last year, I got a call from the Research Centre for Music, Media and Place at the university I work at asking if I would allow them to use the Fair Island photo they found on my blog. A few folks working at the centre were taking a beginners documentary film making class and they were producing a short doc on Stan Pickett, an accordion player originally from Fair Island. You can hear and see Stan play in the video bellow.
I said sure and told them that I had a few more photos and that they are free to chose any of them. They picked three. Last Friday, the class got together and screened the three shorts they made to a very small audience of their classmates and a few other people who in some way helped with their projects. I was invited as a courtesy and came out of curiosity. Stan Picket was in the audience, too.
The films were quite good. In fact, given that they were made in 14 weeks by people who never made a film before, they were great. After the screening, I was introduced to Stan and we got chatting. I pulled out my laptop and showed him a couple of other photos from Fair Island. His eyes glanced over the fish-making photo, but the little pond, the pillars of the old church and the photo of stages and stores at the end of a wharf caught his attention. He became animated and happy, in fact so happy that his excitement was contagious.
It turns out that the little pond known as ‘the rink’ sitting in ‘the meesh’ (marsh) was not just a place to play a game of hockey, but also a major social space. There were bonfires on the neighbouring hills and games and midnight runs with torches between the hills. Stan could just spin one story after another and I kept wishing I had a recorder rolling. The photo below brought the memories of “old-year-out-new-year-in-day” and downhill races in an old wooden punt that would end at the bottom of the gulch and, sometimes, in the ocean. And the church pillars? Well it was his dad who started the church and… It was magical.
And that’s what photographs should do. They should tell stories, make us tell stories, and make us imagine stories. Today’s newspaper photography fails at all of it most of the time and I am not naïve enough to think that I could somehow change that even if I could get that job in what is bound to be an insanely intense competition. So, I’ll keep doing it my way and, thanks to Stan, I have a great idea for a project.
EDITED FOR TYPOS AND CLARITY.
So how far behind am I exactly with all this photo stuff? Well, here I am posting a photograph made during last year’s Remembrance Day ceremony in St. John’s. I also have a bunch of undeveloped film. Unfortunately, most of this will be on hold until I finish my MA thesis which should take another couple of weeks for a complete draft. Until then, I’ll post some old stuff. Some of it very old.
Photographically, last year has been a mixed bag. I had a chance to see more photography than usual thanks to a couple of work related trips where I could piggyback some gallery hopping. I also got to think and write about photography more than I normally would, which, i think, was very good for me. I had plans to submit some work to a few competitions/art bank acquisitions/ archive acquisitions and I wanted to submit some magazine stories/story pitched, but none of that happened. Just way too busy between actually making photographs, work and finishing my MA. This year, hopefully, will be a bit more photography centered. Maybe I manage to enter at least Arts and Letters competition for the first time since we moved to Newfoundland almost 5 years ago. I also have some exhibit ideas and I have a whole lot of photographs I want to make, but for now focus has to be firmly on my MA.
I just applied to graduate today. Now I really need to finish writing the thesis
The photo was made on Fair island, Newfoundland.
“You have to be careful with the island. There is a trap here. If you prevent a young person from leaving, the island turns into a curse. They must go and get to know the world and it has to be their own decision to return and to love the island. If you tell them: “Don’t go there. That’s not for you,” then there is going to be resentment. It’s our job to push them out into the world. We have to give them the love for the island, we have to teach them about life here, but it has to be their decision. If you don’t do that, than they have no reason to come back. It’s only love that works… That is what happened to me. I had a grandma who passed that love on to me and I left to see the world, but I also felt that I can affirm myself the best here, that here, I am myself and that here I can make the greatest contribution. But if I didn’t learn that love, if I did not have that contact with the island, I would have left and would be contented somewhere else and I would not feel that I belong to this island. It’s all about where you belong.”
That is a quote from one of my interviews on Vis island, Croatia.
Also in the news today is the inclusion of a particular style of a cappella singing on Croatian coast into the list of the world’s intangible cultural heritage. The song bellow is performed by Klapa Otok (Island) and it’s called “Islanders’ Ballad.”
My not so great translation is below:
We live off sea, by nets and lines,
We count the blisters from oars, picks.
Red are our eyes from sleepless nights and tears,
Our blistered hands are hard as rocks.
And we are lashed by storms and rains,
And every day we are bent over a bit more,
And yet, more than anything and more than all other beauties
Our entire lives we love sea
Our blue sea, you know all our desires
You are strength, fortune – our life
We count the sails and white ships,
The days are passing with nor’easters and sou’westers.
Miserly land gives all it can,
Life on an island is a joy and sorrow.
Between work, family, finishing off my MA thesis and other assorted academic obligations I barely have time to breathe. The tearsheets are from the latest Newfoundland Quarterly magazine. This is a tiny, little bit of my thesis in a magazine opinion piece form. You can read the whole thing here.
Some time ago I posted a bunch of links on various photo collections here and here. It’s time to add another collection to it. Phil Kneen’s The Old Leather Chair Project is not just a collection but also an exemplary instance of true dedication to his craft. Phil lags his leather chair all over the Isle of Man in the back of his van.
The photograph is of a gas stop (I really can’t call it a station) along a street in Floriana, Malta.
I need to get to an island and make some photographs… It’s becoming a mental health issue…
Our good friends Katie and John were married this past Friday and I had the great pleasure of being their photographer. Classy people that they are, the whole thing was done on black and white film and it was so much fun to do, I can’t even tell you…
Lerwick, Shetland Mainland.
I am cleaning my blog folder which is bursting with photographs mostly because I’ve been neglecting blogging for some time. I am, obviously, back in the swing of things!
A forgotten roll in the back of the fridge yielded these from last February…
Hmmm… this project I have in mind may not actually be a 6×7 project or just a holga project but an infrared film holga project…
That idea is thoroughly inspired by remarkable work of Wolfgang Moersch.
The photograph is from Split, Croatia.
We have drug dealers in the neighbourhood. And they are not two pimply kids selling marijuana, they are the real deal. And everybody knows it. But they seem to be above the rules us mere mortals have to abide by. Since the city and the police seem to be fine with it, the only thing that’s left to me is to take matters into my own hands. Now, I am sure going on a smashing rampage with a baseball bat would be fun, but I think I can do better – I am going to get in on the action.
I am thinking a clandestine bookstore would be awesome. Maybe even some film and chemistry for the hardcore customers. I could set it up in the basement. There would be no storefront, no marketing – strictly word of mouth. You could buy stuff only between 10pm and 4am (since we are up anyway and it seems to be a busy time on the street so I might pick up some walk-in traffic). I, obviously, would not ask for a permit or rezoning, pay taxes, or ask my landlady for a permission since those rules, evidently, do not apply on our street. And the way it would work would be beyond cool for you – the customer. Just imagine – you and a friend take a cab or a car and park, with the engine still running, right on the street. If you are particularly cocky, you can blast some music while waiting. One of you gets out and knocks on our doors. I open just enough to let you in – strictly one person or two people at the time – you pick a book or a long roll of HP5 or some D-76, or maybe even a box of Ilford’s new MG ART 300, all discreetly wrapped in brown paper. You scurry back to the waiting car and drive away revving the engine first just for the heck of it. Nobody needs to know what you picked up and you can quietly share with trusted friends where they, too, can get the stuff. It would be awesome.
The price of a roll of HP5+ at the local store? Glad you asked. Almost $3 more than if ordered from Toronto. Losers. Unfortunately for me, I am leaving in two days and Vistek and Henry’s are out of stock so the local guys just made a tidy profit off me.
Near Tilting on Fogo Island in late February.