Monday, May 23, 2016

On Reading -- Stealing from the best.

Nearly all of my photographs organize themselves into loosely-defined, open-ended projects that are never finished but often stop at an interesting place for a portfolio, show, or hand-made book. 
People often ask; “Where do you get ideas for your projects?”  British photographer and educator, David Hurn says; “Our advice to photographers is best expressed by Calvin Trilling: ‘The immature artist borrows; the mature artist steals.’  So steal from the best.”

I’m certainly stealing from the best for this one.  In the 1970s the great Andre Kertesz published a charming book titled “On Reading”.  Quite a few years later I stumbled upon it in the public library and not too long after that my wonderful wife (at the time a used book dealer) found me a copy of my own.  It has since been reprinted in paper cover but my vintage hardback is way cooler.

The Seattle area (where we live) is more than a bit bookish so it isn’t at all hard to find raw material for my own “On Reading” project.  In fact, I sorted through my negatives and found quite a few already there and I’ve added to the project from time to time ever since.  People who are reading are easy marks lost in their book the rest of the world kind of fades away.  Here’s one from Honolulu:

I put this photograph up on my website and some months later received an email from an author/educator who was writing a textbook for aspiring primary grade teachers.  She wanted to use it as the cover photograph on her book.  Here’s the good part: She teaches at the University of Silesia in PolandIsn’t the internet wonderful sometimes?

Closer to home is this vendor at a farmers’ market in Portland, Oregon.  She was definitely paying more attention to the latest Barbara Kingsolver novel than to her baked goods.  Books are a good conversation starter we talked current novels for a few minutes before she sold me a chocolate croissant and went back to reading.

And the most recent.  If I just go out to take photographs I usually come back empty handed.  If I go out to photograph with the agenda of working on a given project I will usually come back with something I like but not necessarily what I expected.  I suspect that this has to do with looking for something instead of just looking.  This day I started out looking for photographs of street musicians and came back with this.