relationships

Correspondence

Letter writing has been a part of my life since I could write words to form sentences. Handwritten notes received in the mail are one of the many delightful components of life and human relationships. When I was helping my mother pack her house a few months ago, I discovered a small box that read "Dad's Correspondence". Inside was a letter his sister, my Great Aunt Emily, wrote to him. It was a letter I'd heard about. Other people in the family knew about it and also wanted to read it. 

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I love so many things about this letter. Starting with the envelope, it was before ZIP codes, which started in 1963. Before that, there were postal zones. Salt Lake 5 and Chicago 23. That she addressed it to his office and wrote "personal" at the bottom is also endearing to me. 

The letter is postmarked June. She opened letting him know she hadn't heard from him since Christmas, and that she was worried about him. He was going through a divorce. Who knows how often was their normal communication.

The other best part was when she mentioned he should come for a visit with the girls [my mother and aunt]. She told him Fred, her lawyer husband, said he should consult his lawyer first. She had a sense of humor, but I don't think she was trying to be funny. She authentically expresses guilt, love, and compassion.

I love it because it's a window into her life, his life, and their relationship with each other. In 1960 they were in their mid-50s. Emily's children were grown already and about to start having children, Walter had two teenagers. They hadn't lived in the same city for 30 years. 

What I love most about this letter is that it is so clear from the communication that she truly loved her brother, and she was willing to do whatever she could to help him when he was suffering. 

Camera

In putting together this site I had to sift through loads and loads of old images. Time consuming but worthwhile. It got me thinking about the evolution of my relationship with photography. I’m glad I had the experience of developing film in the darkroom and making prints. I remember what a purist I was when digital first arrived on the scene, and people were making the switch. I eventually made the switch, then scoffed at the purists. 

I thought at one time I wanted to make my career as a photographer until I noticed people who weren’t making their careers as photographers were having more fun with it. It happened around the same time I was working for a commercial photographer who had just returned from vacation. I asked him if he had photos. He said: No, I don’t take pictures on vacation. It’s like work. I felt heartbroken and decided right then that was not how I wanted my relationship with my camera to be. 

Flash forward 5 years. I was sitting at a bar in Park Slope with my friend. A guy to my right said he was a photographer and immediately wanted to know what kind of camera I use to shoot. I had just gotten an iPhone and was only using it to shoot. He scoffed and suggested I’m not a real photographer. My DSLR is heavy and hurts my back. Quite frankly it doesn’t give me the immediate satisfaction. I don’t miss sitting at my computer waiting for photos to download. It doesn’t mean I’ll never shoot with it again, but…we’re on a break. I’d rather use a film camera at this point if I am going to lug something around. 

To me it’s never been about the equipment. It’s about the story, composition, texture, it’s never been about the f-stop or film speed for me. Sure it’s fun to geek out for some, but that’s not what I geek out about. Something with crude technology can create something magical and amazing. Anyone can buy the most expensive camera, set up a business, then just send their terrible quality photos to a photographer who can fix them. I worked for that guy a few times, fixing an amateur photographer’s photos. Not just levels, curves and color…moving heads. It was ridiculous. 

At another bar with another friend just last summer, a young Australian gentleman was sitting at the end while I waited for the bartender. He had a film camera, a Rolleiflex medium format, one that I have coveted for years. I don’t know why I don’t have one, but he let me check it out. He got his on eBay and inspired me to finally fulfill that dream. 

A camera after all is just a fun toy in the toy chest, photographic images a layer on canvas. I’m sure our relationship will continue to evolve.