My Image and I

(C) 2011 by Metta Anderson – All Rights Reserved

Put on the Rostropovich DVD of Bach’s Cello Suites; windows open to a soft afternoon; Apricot and Friday accompany me.

Actually better today. Keeping the session down to the morning (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) with two breaks and concentrating on specific subjects helped. At the end of the session, Ms. Norris had a slide show of old to antique photos accompanied by a Simon and Garfunkel song; I only remember the last part of the title, “. . . To My Friend.” It was very effective and I applauded at the end, along with the rest of the audience.

I may have disagreed with her on a couple of points (use of a polyester base for negs; she said it was too thick and stiff for roll film, but Fuji uses it and therefore, I use it, in b&w), but overall, I felt pleased that I am virtually a third generation “photo maven,” keeping my negs and prints in very good condition. (My MOTHER, on the other had, had very serious issues regarding photography–throw away negatives, “store” photos in whatever box is available, box to warm corner of attic; hit a shutter button with great force (with anger, really), etc. This is a separate subject to explore later.)

That realization probably hit me harder than anything else. It means I have a visible, concrete history of my own. Me with Great-grandpa Olds; with grandparents; with parents; with REO; with other siblings; with friends; in Colombia, Mexico and Europe; in Michigan, Texas and Arizona (in part because I took most of the pictures as I got older; MAJOR REGRET–I do not have the negatives!) I grew up with all this BEFORE it became “art,” or “collectible” or “historic.” It was not even a novelty because my entire family was educated, interested in the world around it (HUGELY interested, even EXHAUSTIVELY interested when referring to those “twins”–R. E. Olds and Harry L. Conrad), travelled a lot, and had enough money to make picture taking a normal part of its life. You name it–we photographed it.

Kodak owes us.

Today Ms. Norris included useful website addresses and names of organizations dedicated to photo conservation and preservation. She covered setting up a basic collection in a museum and, among the sensible points made was something useful for people like me, who take pictures.

The institution holding a collection must first define it–what it’s about, what does it cover, what is its “raison d’être,” what is its philosophy, its importance culturally/historically/artistically, etc. Once this agenda is articulated, it is [theoretically] easier for donors to decide where to put their collections (and money). (I mean, of course Hugh Hefner’s outtakes of Barbi Benton deserve a place of honor at the Met, right?) I thought this was a really good point for both sides–who might be more interested in my photos of Bogotá–the Archivo del Distrito Capital?, the Archivo de la Corporación de la Candelaria (they changed their name to “something-something Patrimonio”)?, the Archivo de la Nación?, the Museo Nacional? or the Museo de Arte Moderno?

Sitting by myself and immersed in the images, I realized my interest in photography is both specific and broad.
SPECIFIC–the quality of the light, the composition; b&w vs. color; film, camera and subject; acid-free storage; immaculate processing; film and how it influences the final print; the paper on which it is printed.
BROADLY–theme; inclusion/exclusion of people; what I SEE in a photo; what a photo TELLS me (sociology–clothes, person, places, accessories). I play to it. I READ photos, because each one is a story being told; sometimes part of a larger story. Thus, there were all those STORIES up there on the screen and I wanted to “read” each one.

I also realized that I want to put each image in its “context”–date, process, people (m/f, period, relationships, children, artistic influences).

And I’m writing at home and the music got the better of me:
ROSTROPOVICH– one man, one cello
like a photographer
One person can make
something beautiful
Music–I see and hear the
music in the stories
I see in a photo.
I try to create photos
that allow others to
hear the music and
see the stories I’m
trying to tell.
Not everyone does
but I keep taking pictures
and telling stories.

I managed to take a few pictures before I went into this morning’s session. The light was nice and I even felt more confident, but nothing guarantees a great shot. In fact, I’ve been trying to photograph the water on the black monolith inside the courtyard and maybe I got something when I photographed it during a break. Vamos a ver.

But anyway, after I took some pictures and went inside to find a seat, I started to think about Barbara Chase. I wanted to send her an e-mail saying–“Dear Barb and Signe: I just want to apologize for the way I clung to you both for so long. I wasn’t just insecure, I was avoiding doing two things that are the most important to me–writing and taking pictures (esp. the former). //I thank you both for your patience.//And to quote Mr. Spock, “Live long and prosper.” Affectionately, Metta//P.S. Barb, we’re STILL Oldsmobile.”


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