Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Residency: Final Thoughts

It’s my last night here at the Anderson Center, and I feel I need to write about it. I’m not compelled to say anything extraordinary, I just feel like I’m supposed to elaborate on my thoughts at this point.

I’m ready to go home, but not ready to leave.

I’m not ready to leave because there is more work to be made; more photos that I need to have. I came here for a project, and I’m not sure that the project is fully realized yet. I’m not sure it exists in the form that I had hoped it would. I’m not ready to leave Debbie’s cooking. Six pm every night, something incredible is sitting on the table. I’m not ready to leave the power of this room. There is a creative energy surging through this building. I can feel this house breathe at night.

I’m not ready to have to go back to “fitting in” time to make photos. Here, I’ve been able to crawl out of bed, grab my gear, and come back when I’m done (or hungry). I’ve been able to talk with the people A LOT more than I usually can. (Side note: I've realized that the stories that are shared with me before, during, and after I make someone’s photo may be important to the work, so I’m trying to remember everyone and what we talked about so I don’t forget. At my presentation last night, a few people commented afterward that they really like the stories I had to tell with each photo, and that they’re not used to photographers giving that much background on each image. They liked it. I’ve been thinking about it for about 4 days now, and I’ve decided I need to get these stories on paper. I tend to forget the details. It’s all just details.)

I’m ready to go home because I’ve worked myself numb. I don’t stop looking for photos or talking with people in town. The other residents comment on how they never see me because I’m always out shooting - never around home resting. I haven’t been sleeping nearly as much as I should be. My calves are burning. My big toe on my right foot is screwed up. My right shoulder is constantly sore to the touch from carrying around that damn camera bag. The skin around my fingernails is raw from going in and out of my pocket for my car keys all the time. I’m ready to feel my bed again; to smell Sarah sleeping next to me.

What’s left to say? It’s been an incredible stay, but my time is up. I have the photos that I have. 1956 to this point. It’ll be well over 2000 after my shoot early tomorrow morning. I’ll spend a few weeks (months) contemplating them, moving them around, adding, subtracting, changing the story around until, hopefully, I can make them communicate something. That “something” is yet to be determined. It will be a thought-filled night tonight, I’m sure. Thanks for being a part of this.

Residency Day 13, 14, and 15

Some portraits from day 13:

Grandma and the girls
headed down to Lake Pepin

Dredging the main channel


On Tuesday, day 14, I had to zip back to the Cities to teach Media I at MCAD. And then I zipped back to Red Wing for a artists lecture at ArtReach. Thanks for the photo Sanjna:

I tried to make some photos before the class at MCAD and after the presentation at ArtReach, but it just wasn’t working. Therefore, no photos were made on day 14. Ouch.

Day 15:

Gumballs at the barber shop

M. D. at Bev’s Cafe

M. D. headed home

Brothers/co-owners in a new bar
that opens tomorrow

Restacking sweet corn

Tomorrow, I have one big shoot lined up, and then I need to pack up and get to a meeting at the U of M. My time here has nearly come to a close.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Residency Day 12

Back at the Blue Moon Café. It’s a bit drizzly outside, but I’m about ready to head out. I had to stop here for the wireless so I could send my syllabus to Katherine and Lynda at MCAD and CVA, respectively.

I didn’t shoot much at all yesterday - I sequestered myself in my room at the Anderson Center for the majority of the day to work on preparing for class starting this week and next week. But I thought I’d take a moment and show you some work from Sunday:

Face-painting clown

Face-painting clown

Dunk tank

Priest with Bingo cards

Sunday evening at the River

I’m still really excited about the Miss Red Wing and Red Wing Princess photoshoot from this past weekend! I think I have something there (check the post before this one).

Tomorrow, I start teaching FND Media 1 at MCAD. I’ll take off for the Cities in the late morning, teach the first class, book it back to Red Wing, and give a presentation of my work at ArtReach. It’s the start of fall - back in the saddle again...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Residency Day 9, 10, and 11

I’m sitting at the Blue Moon Café in Red Wing on a cool, breezy Saturday night. It’s warm in here. I’m sitting with Sanjna, a resident filmmaker/writer from New York staying with me at the Anderson Center. We have our 2 Macs taking up all the space on this little table. There are 3 sixty year old men standing in the corner performing yet another cover of “Folsom Prison Blues.” The café is filled with trinkets and knick-knacks of all sorts: wooden chickens, antique pottery, men with white beards, and stained glass windows. It couldn’t be more perfect. I actually have goose bumps right now due to my current state of bliss. Life is good.

I feel like I’ve had a little photographic success lately. I’ve been more prolific. More is better, right? Although Thursday I was rained out. It poured and stormed starting in the afternoon. My room started leaking at 2 am. I went to the kitchen to get a pan to catch the water and slept the rest of the night with a pillow over my head to kill the sounds of the dripping. Still, I can’t complain. The Anderson Center is a place of magic.

Last night, Sarah came up to spend the night. She went on a 61 mile bike ride today as I was making photos, and then we went on a 5 mile run once she was back. It was nice to see her, even just for a few hours.

Well, enough small talk, I’ll give you what you came here for. Here’s some new work:

Mulching the new grass seed

Waiting to board the Amtrak for Chicago
to visit the American Girl doll factory

Marina girl

Red Wing Stoneware closing time

Purple wall and speaker

Red Wing Princess on the patio

Miss Red Wing

Miss Red Wing getting ready to
start college in 4 days

p.s. The local old men playing honky-tonk just started a song with “I’m an old cowpoke. I don’t use no soap.”


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Residency Day 6, 7, and 8

It’s been a few days. I’ve had a few highs and lows. Where to begin...

Monday, day 6, I started really having trouble with the work I’d been creating (actually, I've been having issues with it for quite a bit now, but it's been in the forefront of my thoughts lately). It’s the same work from grad school. Nothing’s changed. I’m not taking any more risks. I’m getting to a comfortable location (physically and mentally [and maybe spiritually]) and I make my photos there. In that safe place. Nothing new. Everything old and boring. I’m trying to open myself up while I’m here, but this is not an undertaking for this residency. I need to make risky, inventive photos while I’m here, and once I leave I need to start dealing with my working process. It’s not in a respectable place for my work to be. It’s stale.

That being said, here are a few photos from the last few days. This is risky for me to be doing during this residency, because I always need time to fully process these images and decide what is working and what is just dribble. Putting these up days, sometimes hours, after shooting them is tough for me. It’s bearing my soul to all of you.

Waiting for the fish to bite

Smoking at the produce stand

Whacking weeds on a hill

Lifeguard on break

Lifeguard on break

Waterpark by the Mississippi (in the background)

Penny-farthing enthusiast

Clydesdales at Wal-Mart
(it sounds strange because it IS strange)

Red Wing potter

That’s been the last few days for me. I’ve been well. How are you? How are the kids?

p.s. I think the “Quakers” from the Day 5 post were actually Mennonites. I want to write them to ask.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Residency Day 4 and 5 (Including NY Times Shoot)

Saturday was the NY Times Magazine photoshoot. I think things went well. I took many MANY photos, and had a great time with the families. I don’t want to say too much about it or show any pictures (keeping the families privacy in mind), but you can check out the article that should hit newsstands at the end of October. If the families involved are reading this, thank you for your hospitality, and for a great meal! Your children are delightful and endlessly entertaining! I wish you all the best.

After the shoot, I swung by home to say hi to Sarah and her new bike, Tony. She (and the cats) were getting along fine without me. I left home and headed back to Red Wing, taking a few photos in New Trier at the church once it was dark along the way.

Sunday, day 5 of my 16 day stay, started very slow. I was up early and out the door by 6:45. I ran all around Red Wing and some nearby communities. I got back to the house for lunch with the other residents after being out for 5 hours. I still hadn’t taken one photo. I don’t think my camera even left its bag. Slow, depressing start to the day.

But after we all ate, I took Lori (the painter), Sanjna, and Susan (both writers) to Welch. Susan sat in the Trout Café and wrote, Sanjna and Lori took an hour tube “ride” down the Cannon River, and I photographed people in the river. On the river, I found a family collecting Crayfish to feed their chickens and many semi-drunk inner-tubers. In fact, I was mooned twice by one young “lady.” (Don’t be looking for that photo here.)

We all went back to the Anderson Center, and I left for town shortly after. I found a Quaker family (at least I think they’re Quakers) having a picnic near a marina on the Mississippi.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Residency Day 3 and 4

Yesterday (Friday, Day 3) I didn’t get much worth writing home about. I didn’t take enough chances, and I was left with memory cards full of stock photography. This happens now and then.

However, I got a great nights’ sleep, and I was up early. I scouted up and down the river around a park and 2 marinas. I had 2 decent shots (of a jogger and a fisherman) by 8 am:

I’m getting ready for the shoot for the Times now. I’ll finish that shoot, stop in and say hi to Sarah, and head back to Red Wing for a few photos in the evening. That’s my plan at least...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Residency Day 2

Well, it’s day 3 now. Yesterday, after The Miss Rockaway Armada pulled out of Red Wing, I drove up Hwy 61 to scout for photos. I made a bunch of mediocre photos all afternoon. I met a woman in Miesville who told me that there was a baseball tournament in town starting later that day. It is the Minnesota State Class C and B Amateur Baseball Tournament. I came back once it started after supper. I shot all night, and I have a few that could be promising:

Then a got another second-rate night of sleep. I need to get to bed earlier. The traffic wakes me up around 6. My first night, I got about 4 hours, and last night I got around 6. I need to get a real good nights’ sleep tonight.

Tomorrow, I’ll be swinging back to the Cities for the afternoon. I’ll be doing the first photoshoot for the NY Times article. To put it as succinctly as possible, the story is about gay men who decide to have biological children with lesbian partners. So the family unit that emerges is a gay father and two lesbian mothers. The father many times has a boyfriend or partner, so the children end up being parented by 3 and sometimes 4 parents.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

GREAT NEWS to Start Day 2!

Sarah had left a message for me saying that someone from the NY Times Magazine was trying to contact me. OK...that can only be a good thing.

It took some phone and e-mail tag, but Joanne from the Times and I were finally able to connect. The NY Times Magazine wants me to be their photographer for a cover story for an October issue!! I need to go back up to Minneapolis this Saturday for one shoot, and then there will be another one in the following month or so. I am excited beyond belief!

Residency Day 1

The day before I left, I wanted to get in a quick workout at the Y, so I stopped in for about a half hour. I arrived a nearly the same time as Justin Newhall. We talked for a while and got caught up on what the other is up to. Justin is a nice guy, a great photographer, and running into him could only mean good juju for my upcoming trip.

On Wednesday (yesterday), I arrived at the Anderson Center in Red Wing. This place is amazing! The buildings and the grounds are gorgeous! I have a private room, private bath, and detached studio in the lower yard.

My room is the left window
on the 2nd floor

It’s more of a painters studio,
but it has AC if I should need it.

So I went into Red Wing after getting (slightly) settled, and I came across a young woman riding a bike in bright red galoshes and I knew I needed to photograph her. I caught up to her, and as it turns out, she was the PR person for this big project called The Miss Rockaway Armada. To put it as briefly as possible, it is a group of about 30 NY artists that built 6 rafts out of trash and are riding from north of Minneapolis to St. Louis on the Mississippi. Crazy amazing!

The Miss Rockaway Armada

Some photos:

This one and the previous one were
taken on the morning of day 2

They were all so kind. I was offered food or liquor every few minutes: “Can I get you a beer?” “Are you sure you don’t need supper?” Finally, when I was walking on shore, someone yelled “Hey Steve!” I looked up just in time to see a can of PBR flying off the vessel in my direction.

It landed on the beach in front of me. I washed it off in the Mississippi and drank it. My first PBR. It wasn’t that good. But the day was fantastic. I headed home to get all the sand out of my gear. What a day.

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