new work: 2018 – 2021
“No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change.
You just come out the other side.”
– Steven King ‘The Stand’
By 2018, I’d been unsettled for years and the back and forth road tripping between the Sierras and the California Central Coast was starting to get old. The whole on-the-road lifestyle was getting old. On my last trip to the mountains, I took few pictures and spent most of my time climbing, and even climbing was becoming less and less inspiring. Summer was coming and with it, the heat, and with the heat came the constant search for shade and good camping spots, long empty hours cooling off in libraries and coffeehouses, and days of just plain mindless sitting and sweating in the car. I was done with it. So when the car started acting up, I just took it as a sign that things were ending and it was time to start thinking about settling down and starting over. That last drive home to the coast was epic. I slowly nursed my crumbling wreck back into town, parked and walked away and put a lid on the life I’d been intensely living for almost twelve years. It was an incredible relief.
Black Hill Gang
Morro Bay, California 2018
Of course, work and career had always been secondary, focused as I was on my photography and finding ways to put myself where the pictures would be but now I needed steady work. A few years before, I’d gotten a basic commercial driver’s license. It was pretty limited but it allowed me to work as a professional driver which was a hell of a lot better than digging ditches and clearing brush. Once back from the road, I decided to go to trucking school and upgrade my license so I could work most anywhere and drive most anything. I enrolled and before leaving, I spent the month of April in Morro Bay, on Black Hill. It was spring, the grass was in, the leaves were green and I did some interesting work which turned out to be some of the best but also the last – I went back not too long ago and the years of drought had taken its toll. The landscape was brown and dried out and many trees were dead and gone. It changed the shots and fewer trees meant more light, too much light, making motion blur work almost impossible.
By the fall, I’d finished up school and a seasonal trucking gig in Fresno and on an invitation from a friend headed for Nevada City, a quiet, ichronic town in the Sierra foothills. I hung out, house sat and explored until I realized how good it was and decided to stay. After a few weeks, I found a job and a place to live and spent the next year settling in. My new job was intense; driving a large truck and trailer combo in unfamiliar, mountainous terrain, usually off-road, got my whole attention and so I benched my camera and made a promise to myself to return. It wasn’t easy; my new studio was an ideal stage for bottle work – Great light, perfect setting, but all I could do was plot and scheme future sessions until the time was right.
Blue Bottles: Wings of Morning Drive
Nevada City, California 2019
“I want to mature so badly right now. I want to come into my own as they say.from Beauty and Debris
I want to settle my debts, forgive all my past mistakes and start over again.
I need to lose some emotional weight.
Timing is everything in photography and by the fall of 2019 it was time to retrieve my camera. By then, I’d long passed through the ‘in situ approach to still life and had taken thousands of pictures of ‘placed’ bottles and learned what worked and what didn’t regarding location, light direction, bottle spacing and depth. Now I added additional props and tricks to the mix and the pictures started piling up. For the next year and a half, I worked the pictures when the conditions were right and I had the time. I was incredibly busy with my job, often working 6 days a week and 10 hour days at that but I managed to shoot when it was possible. My last session, after I got the covid and had to stay home, lasted over a week. I took thousands of shots during this time and some of those pictures are so different from anything I’d done before. I was excited about what would come out of future sessions but I abruptly moved away in the summer of 2021 when a place suddenly became available that was closer to work.
It’s almost been two years since I had a serious session with the camera. I love where I’m currently living and what’s odd is that in every place I’ve lived in the last 20-plus years, I’ve been given some kind of opportunity for motion blur work. But here, where it’s quiet, private, and close to everything I need, I just can’t seem to find something to do for my camera. I’m not in a rut, I haven’t driven myself into some creative cul-de-sac and I’m not the least bit concerned. It just feels like its time to take a break, to look over all the work I’ve got, to sift through it and decide what works and what doesn’t and the stability is more than welcome. But I see pictures everywhere. I’ve purchased another van, a minivan and on pure instinct, I stripped out the rear seats and installed a mattress pad. I just hope I can finish my book before the road calls again. I really do.