The Long Way Home


While the City Sleeps
June 30, 2015, 10:16 PM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , , ,
A view from the Southside Cemetery (outtake).

A view from the Southside Cemetery (outtake)

I’ve had this dream of taking photos before the city wakes, and this month’s 12×12 photo challenge gave me that opportunity: Take what you believe will be the final series of photographs before you die (Nick Brandt). I admit, the topic kind of scared the shit out of me, despite my fascination with death culture, and anything dark, strange, creepy, or curiously morbid. Taking the photos felt like jinxing myself, as if I’d summon our inevitable fate a littler sooner than anticipated. Also, it ups the ante to make the “last” photos really, really good photos. It made me want to go big, do something wild and out of the ordinary, which is most likely the point: I should do something different (no self-portraits!).

Gem Way

Gem Way

Instead of thinking about the photos, I thought about all the things I put off doing and finally decided to do. I came across notes I had written in my journal – lists, really, of places around the city where I’ve meant to take pictures. And on a cold, gloomy (then later, sunny) Sunday morning (in short: unpredictable), Polaroid Spectra in hand, Jeff and I drove to each point so I could capture those tiny corners of Pittsburgh. We went downtown to Liberty Avenue because all the times I sat waiting for him to get off work, I’d stare at the expanse of buildings on Liberty and think how they were so faded and crumbling and lovely, like a painting, that I had to get them on instant film; or on the Southside Slopes, a house I’ve seen hanging on the edge of S. 18th Street being swallowed by ivy, and I marveled over its survival through decades.

Pearl St. altar, Bloomfield

Pearl St. altar, Bloomfield

These aren’t statement photos, or conceptual, or typically Pittsburgh or anything different from what I’ve done before, but rather, a bookend to what I have done for years: sending love letters to my city – a dark, strange, and (sometimes) curiously morbid little town that defines me in ways that I find hard to put into words.

Liberty Ave., 9 AM

Liberty Ave., 9 AM

Ivy house on S. 18th, Southside Slopes

Ivy house on S. 18th, Southside Slopes

City garden, Southside Slopes

City garden, Southside Slopes (outtake)

Gem Way, Garfield

Gem Way, Garfield (outtake)



A People’s History of Pgh
May 29, 2015, 6:56 AM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , ,
A People's History of Pittsburgh, Spaces Corners 2015

A People’s History of Pittsburgh, Spaces Corners 2015

I think my mother would be surprised (and secretly pleased) to see a photo of her with her friends published in A People’s History of Pittsburgh: Volume One. As I’ve written in various blog posts, she hid her photos away for so many years, even she may have forgotten all the memories packed away in those boxes. The book is part of the Now See This  project through Hillman Photography Initiative, and it’s a great collection of vernacular photography edited in the context of  Pittsburgh and its many facets by Melissa Catanese and Ed Panar. Click here to see more of the project and to submit your family photos.

r. my mother and her friends, 1970s

r. my mother and her friends, 1970s



Lost Afternoon
April 24, 2015, 7:00 AM
Filed under: Florida | Tags: , , ,
lost afternoon

lost afternoon

Travel gives me a chance to tell stories. With a set amount of money to spend, a few items packed, a loose itinerary, I imagine that the life I’m living is the one opening before me while on the road. Time warps, days blur. Everything is a potential photograph.

the real florida

the real florida



Tybee Island
April 23, 2015, 7:22 AM
Filed under: Georgia | Tags: , , ,
in the blue

endless

I confess: I cannot swim. Not in the real way, anyhow. I float on my back so I can look up at the sky and listen to the sea. The first time I saw an ocean was in Virginia. I was 11, and I took a raft into the water to ride the waves, only to be surrounded by jellyfish, translucent flowers swirling near my arm. Later, my sister got stung by one, her small thigh swelling up to almost twice its size. I learned the power of the water. Yet still, I have beach dreams. On Tybee, I wandered off saddled with cameras, shoes slung over my shoulder. Crashing waves, a bickering family. Broken, glistening shells. A tiny ship in the distance.

a memory

a memory



Savannah Morning
April 22, 2015, 6:38 AM
Filed under: Georgia | Tags: , , , ,
welcome guest

welcome guest

It’s 9 AM. Jeff and our friend Tim are having dude coffee talk, and I am in the backyard, rigging a tripod out of an overturned wooden table. The sun keeps slipping through the clouds. We are 11 hours from home, and while I love visiting Savannah, I long to just be in my bed, hug my cat, hide out for a few days before going back to work. Savannah, though, is good to us. The night before, we ate BBQ ribs at Johnny Harris, and then bought a dozen Krispy Kremes with $10 that Jeff found on the ground. We visited Tybee Island, and later, walked to get drinks in the rain. I got a little tipsy, and this morning, find blurry night photos on my iPhone. I wanted to capture the soft darkness, the way the lamp lights glowed across a tiny square like something out of a film. I erase them. I flip through the instant shots I have taken on this trip, brush donut crumbs off the edge of a frame.

Savannah morning

Savannah morning



Strange Vacation
April 21, 2015, 6:50 AM
Filed under: Florida | Tags: , , , ,
Florida livin'.

Florida livin’

It is mind-numbing and surreal, driving 16 hours from home. We take one suitcase, one bag of cameras and film, a snack-filled cooler. We make a playlist (mostly Steely Dan this time, which Jeff calls his “prescription from Dr. Wu”). We play road games, the alphabet one being a favorite (“Name a band that starts with _”). There is lots of excitement in the beginning of the  drive – adventure awaits! – then time rolls on, and we’re hungry. Tired, cranky, we bicker over directions. There are breaks at scenic highway overlooks and creepy little mom-and-pops selling crushed Twinkies. State by state we shed layers of clothing to accommodate the heat. We are confused, we are lost, we laugh at the dumbest things. When we reach Ocala, I roll down the window and cup my hand to feel the outside humidity. It’s one of the few places where I’ve watched it rain on only one side of the road – dark clouds competing with the sun.

the rain divide



Journey’s End
April 20, 2015, 6:48 AM
Filed under: Florida | Tags: , , , ,
Cross Creek, Florida

Cross Creek, Florida

Today starts Polaroid Week and I thought I’d share photos from our recent Florida road trip: two per day for the next five days. I took these two along US 301, the Mother Road of the South. This was the first time in our history of traveling there that our GPS went wonky; we drove in seeming circles, our navigation system winding us off highways through the beaten tracks. Lightening shot through the skies, illuminating the rolling green land where horses grazed under canopies of Spanish moss. There was that fresh-cut grass smell permeating the car as I rolled down the windows, and a sound I haven’t heard since summer: the hum of crickets.

US 301, Ocala.

US 301, Ocala.




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