Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: analog travelog, impossible project, polaroid, Western New York
I’m excited to have been asked by the Impossible Project to write a blog post featuring our July road trip in Western New York. You can read more about our adventure over here. (It’s been a great summer!)
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: b&w, garfield pittsburgh, polaroid, spectra, walk
When Jeff and I aren’t on the road, we travel our neighborhood, making ordinary trips to the grocery store an adventure. Last week, I took my Spectra with me on our walk to Bottom Dollar (Klondike craving), figuring I’d finally get to capture some things that caught my attention on earlier car rides to work – times where I’m thinking, I’ll go back to that later – and it’s changed. We pass two houses on Gem Way that I filmed this past winter, now a lush, urban garden of tall grass and Queen Anne’s Lace. The row houses across the street, looming brick structures on broken Penn Avenue, a door still covered in old newspapers from, I swear, as long as we’ve lived here – seven years. All the moving around I did as a child, then a college student, then as a young adult trying to find my way, and now I’ve arrived: middle-aged, Spectra in hand, with my best friend beside me peeling silver wrapping from a frozen treat: this is home.
Filed under: New York | Tags: b&w, cyanograph, haunted house, impossible project, polaroid, spectra
Actually the house is not made of limestone, but in Limestone, New York, a hamlet just over the PA border of nearby Bradford. It was once, I’m guessing, part of a family farm, and is now filled with abandoned antiques. Each time we’ve gone up to Olean, we pass by this place, and each time we stop I peek through the windows to see if anything has changed; two years later and the living room is still filled with coat racks heavy with military jackets, an art deco metal glider, peeling rose wallpaper in the hallway. The kitchen is unrecognizable, the stove replaced with broken chairs, debris littering the floor where the fridge once stood. The porch is dangerously close to caving. There is a heaviness I feel as I tread the tall grass in the backyard. The windows are eyes, the door always open, daring us to enter and discover its secrets.
Filed under: New York | Tags: impossible project, Olean, polaroid, spectra, Western New York
I love mid-week road trips. You get that tiny thrill of playing hooky from your life while everyone else is at work, going through the usual routine. It’s like flipping everything upside down for 48 hours. It also means there is nobody around, which makes photo adventures all the better: few interruptions from curious onlookers, less traffic. Wednesday becomes more like Sunday with everything open. Jeff is from Allegany, a tiny town in western New York. We went to visit with his sister and her family. I’m fascinated how isolated Allegany is from everywhere else: “everywhere” meaning Buffalo or Pittsburgh, the two closest “big” cities. How did he learn about punk rock? Where did he see art house flicks and go to basement shows? These were the things that a river-town kid like me agonized over if I had to grow up far away from city life. I’ve spent the last few weeks working on photo projects, working day-job OT, and exploring the back roads around us. It’s my birthday month, and I’m celebrating all I love about July through my lens.
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: impossible project, instant film, mistakes, polaroid, rust belt
One reason I love instant film is its unpredictability, and over time, I’ve learned to embrace the mistakes. I keep all the bunk shots and make notes of what went wrong that day, marking temperature, lighting conditions – did I set the darken/light wheel correctly, is the film just too far gone to salvage? Sometimes I waste an entire pack, and get pissed off and sulky for an hour or so after a shoot, trying not to think about the monetary cost of each error (when shooting instant film, you really have to block out that part of your brain, or you won’t keep shooting). Then I buck up and let go, or make plans to shoot again if I really feel attached to the first composition. Shooting instant film has taught me patience, and it’s safe to say that once you’re hooked, getting that “one shot” (sometimes, quite literally) becomes something of an obsession.
In the shot above, taken last summer, I tried three times in one pack to capture Jeff walking in front of my old house on E. 9th Avenue in Homestead. Other Homestead shots turned out decently, but it were as if the house possessed my camera. I gave up, but still love the way the divots cut so perfectly through the house, touching the top of Jeff’s head.
The diptych below shows two shots with similar composition captured two weeks apart, the left frame on an unusually warm, sunny April day. I was pretty heartbroken when I saw how this one turned out – the entire pack of film that day was a complete bust. I re-staged the one on the right in early morning, on a cooler day.
The two images below were taken a day apart on lunch-break walks. My friend Kat was kind enough to model for me twice.
This last frame was in the same pack as the first diptych picture. By this point it was the end of the day, I was crabby, but determined to figure out what went wrong with all those other shots and finally: a story emerged.