Valentine's is in a few days. If you love the idea of flowers but hate to waste money on perishable symbols of love, consider a floral print. They don't smell as good, but they are permanently fresh. I have a photography show as part of Second Fridays Council Bluffs on Valentine's night.
The best part of the holidays for me is extra time spent with family, of wine and strong beer and baked goods and games and twinkling lights, of nephews and nieces laughing with rosy cheeks, of indulgence, of fireplaces and sledding and more time away from work than usual. In short, I love everything about the holidays.
If you have a few extra minutes, read this excellent poem by Joshua Mehigan, entitled "How Strange, How Sweet":
This was a butcher. This, a Chinese laundry. This was a Schrafft’s with 10-cent custard ice creams. Off toward the park, that was the new St. Saviour. Then, for five blocks, not much but chain-link fences. These foolish things, here today, gone today, yesterday, forty years ago, tomorrow. Deloreses and Normas not quite gone, with slippers on, and heads like white carnations, little, and brittle, and mum, why did the fine September weather call you out today? To dangerously bend and touch a cat. To lean beside your final door and smile. To go a block and get a thing you need. What are you hiding, ladies? What do you know?
Micks were from here to there. Down there, the Mob. And, way down there, the mob the bill let in. Far west were Puerto Ricans. Farther west, in Newark, Maplewood, or Pennsylvania, one canceled choice away, why, there’s nostalgia, lipstick, and curls, and gum, and pearls on Sunday. So here’s a platinum arc from someone’s neck chain, bass through a tinted window, loudest laughter, the colored fellow with the amber eyes who doesn’t need to stand just where he is. Here sits the son of 1941, a pendulous pink arm across a chair back; his sister, she of 1943, her hair the shade of an orangutan. Food stamps and welfare, Medicaid and Medicare. Kilroy was here. Here was where to get out of.
Last come the new inevitable whites. See how the gracious evening sunshine lights their balconied high-rise’s apricot contemporary stucco-style finish. Smell the pink-orange powder as some punk sandblasts Uneeda Biscuit off the wall. Flinch at the miter saw and nail gun, at three-inch nails that yelp as men dismantle a rooftop pigeon loft. Those special birds will not fly home to the implicit neighbor, or fall like tiny Esther Williamses in glad succession from a wire, to climb and circle in the white December sky. Far up, from blocks away, the pale birds seemed, when they all turned at once, to disappear. Across the street, the normal pigeons eat.
I use several online media platforms to share my work, and each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. For whatever reason, I rarely post non-travel-related photos here on my blog, which seems silly, since I can control all aspects of quality control. This is particularly a concern with image quality, since Facebook's compression process tends to destroy fine, subtle detail in images, introducing banding/posterization. Every step of my shooting/editing process is designed around maintaining as much image quality as possible, so running my images through the Facebook grinder is painful for me. So from now on, every time I upload an image to my Facebook page, I'm going to upload it here, too, so a cleaner image can be available online to interested readers, even if this dual availability is designed more for my own peace of mind.
The image in this post is a good example. See those fine gradations in the shadow areas? They're digital garbage in the Facebook version (see https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=674799062564134&l=c67d5fdf42).
Speaking of, I don't think I've even mentioned my Facebook page here on my website/blog. I created it specifically for my series of floral portraits. If you have not done so, go Like it at http://www.facebook.com/BuckChristensenFloralPortraits, and I promise to sprinkle your newsfeed with beautiful flower pictures.
For me, one of the joys of viewing a photograph is trying to mentally disassemble and reassemble the details of the shot, not only the technical details (setup and execution), but also the intent, story, and message. This is one of the reasons I no longer volunteer many details for my own work, instead forcing the photograph to stand on its own merits and be subject to interpretation. That way, the relationship between the print and the viewer is held in isolation from my own. After all, a framed print on a wall might display a title and signature, but no other information is likely readily available. It’s a dynamic that I learned and embraced in creative writing through the process of literary criticism. Once that creative work is “finished” and released into the world, the creator’s intention and message is either received or it is not, and the success of the work may or may not depend on how successfully the creator executed his or her vision. In fact, an unexpected, unintended factor may carry the work to higher places.
In the current era of online photography, where exif data is usually readily available and photographers tend to share all the circumstances by which an image was born, it’s probably a gamble to withhold such details. But I’d rather let the photograph speak for itself, to create its own relationship with the viewer, independent from my input, which may just detract or distract from that relationship. On the occasion that a viewer shares with me his or her interpretation of one of my images, it’s also a chance to learn about details and considerations that I had not noticed.
I guess the moral of this story is that I’m usually going to leave the interpretation up to you, but if you would like to know some part of an image’s backstory, feel free to ask.