Thursday, December 9, 2010

Photography Nostalgia

In working on a Christmas gift, that shall not be discussed so as not to give anything away to any unsuspecting individual, I went through many old photos. In doing so I stumbled upon some old pictures that I had taken when I was in high school and when I was starting to learn how to use Photoshop. I became obsessed with the program and, I admit, still am in total awe of the realm of possibilities for photos within it.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude's installation art, The Gates, was in Central Park for over 2 weeks in 2005.
I have always loved taking photos. I love portraits, as unposed as possible because I feel looking at them can be a real study in the essence of humanity. I love the lines in people's faces. I love the little quirks that make each individual just that, an individual, a unique specimen. Especially in a society obsessed with physical (and social) conformity these unique qualities can be overlooked. I think when someone alters their appearance to such a degree that they lose what made them individual (à la Heidi Montag) it's a deeply profound loss not easily regained.

I haven't done much portraiture but I hope to remedy that in the future. It's a difficult thing to do and something that I ponder rather frequently. How do you get someone to pose for a portrait shot without really posing? If someone knows they are being watched, even if they tell themselves to relax, I think there is still a tendency to pose to a certain degree. And I am always astounded at photographers who can go to far-off places and take beautiful shots of people in their every day life. I have contemplated doing that when I have traveled but always feel like the person is going to think I'm weird if I start photographing them because something about them appeals to my aesthetics. Or else I would feel like a jerk asking some destitute individual if I could take their photo because I would feel like I was insulting them, like they were part of a zoo or circus, something to be looked at, awed at, maybe even pitied. But that isn't what draws me to them, it's those little things that I mentioned, the little quirks that make people individuals. Or sometimes it's my wanting to document everything I see, good and bad, the things that make me proud of America and the things that we as a society still need to work on. I especially love to photograph the people and things that have been forgotten or that get overlooked, both in the social justice sense as well as in the "there's beauty in the small things" sense.

I have a deep appreciation for texture. I love the details in things. I love going to the beach and finding beautiful shells and rocks and then examining the sand and finding those same shapes and colors in a micro-form. I always want to keep them because I think they are so beautiful but how does one keep track of a grain of sand? I love the patterns that you find both on large and small scales in nature. I love when you can look at a photograph and you cannot tell if it is a picture of something on a grand or tiny scale. Or when you look at something close up and you can't tell what it is until the photo is zoomed out and then it seems so obvious, you should have realized what you were looking at!

I love the colors and texture of this huge plant I saw in Hawaii.
Shells and sea glass that I found on a beach in Hawaii... so much beauty in such a small package!

The broken stalk of a star-gazer lily on Long Island in early Fall.

A milkweed pod spills out it's fairy-like seeds to be swept away by a gust of wind.

A close up of a dandelion's full seed head.

These icicles hung in front of our back door several years ago on LI.
In the spring I am obsessed with the first flowers to brave the still chilly and frosty world. They are the pioneers that lead the way for all that comes in the soon warming weeks and months. Especially living up north the winter is wonderful because it strongly marks the time of year and distinguishes it from the rest, but come February the short days and slushy roads find me weary and I find myself holding my breath, hoping for the first signs of spring. I know spring will come but it's still such a relief when it arrives, as if one year it may decide it's just too cold for any one flower to take a chance and peek above ground. When I lived on Long Island often times that flower would be a crocus. The brilliant purple/blue of the petals was made all the more devastating in contrast with the snow. 

A brave crocus found outside my house on Long Island in early spring.
In Montana, where there is considerably more land in which wildflowers can grow, the pioneers of spring are more diverse. This past spring I saw the first wild flower of the year on my birthday, March 1st, when I was hiking in the woods with my boyfriend, Tyler, and our dog, Hanz. This one happened to be a buttercup which, interestingly enough, has a curious layer of starch that reflects the sunlight, giving the petals a glossy, waxy sheen. 

A Ranunculus (buttercup) found in the woods outside Missoula, MT.
I felt like I must have been doing something right in my life because not only was I blessed with seeing the first wildflower of the season on my birthday last year but I also saw the first birds performing mating displays (red-shafted northern flickers) and I found a coyote's skull in the woods! Certainly a birthday to remember! :)


  1. great photos, Especially that first one. I love taking pictures too. It's amazing how strong the mood can be in a photo.

  2. Extraordinary photos . I haven't seen these before. The milkweed pod is magical and all the images enchanting. What a good eye you have.