Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.
The road from Viterbo to Bolsena passes through a lovely landscape, about an hour north of Rome. In early April the trees are leafing out. The foliage is a myriad collection of greens of every hue. The air is clean and sweet. As the road twists and turns, there are broad views off to the left of Lake Bolsena, glimmering blue under the spring sun.
A tiny parking lot appears off to the side of the road. It has barely room for two small cars, with a stone wall into which are carved the words “Bolsena War Cemetery- 1945”. No cemetery is in sight however, but only a long stone path descending through olive trees and a large field that is already in need of mowing. My visit left me pondering America's present day dark politics.
I have been an admirer of Sally Mann for a long time. I became aware of her photography just as my own love of portraiture was blossoming. While we have never met, we are contemporaries and my kids are the same age as hers. There are far more points of departure than confluence in our lives, but those intersections have had an impact on my view of Mann and her visual and written work. Beyond all that, I deeply appreciate much of her photography just as I admire much about her as an artist. Thus, when I learned that her autobiography (“Hold Still”) was about to be published I was anxious to read it. I found it to be entirely compelling and a great source of artistic wisdom. She is a strong writer and has a lot to say on subjects far beyond the controversy by which so many people know her name..
Successful portraits result from that instant of collaboration. That moment when the subject connects and addresses the camera is often electric. There is a non-verbal communication between us and for that short time we are alone in the world, entirely focused on the task between us. At that moment I feel an energy – an actual rush – that is unique in my experience.
My Lomography Petzval lens sits on my Canon 5d Mk iii. (http://shop.lomography.com/us/lenses/brass-petzval-canon-mount) That is an interesting combination of old and new technology. I bought the lens on impulse in Paris last year as I was getting ready for several shoots. That was not smart but it worked out okay. Since that time I have tweaked my technique to allow me a much higher incidence of properly focused images. This is the first of a few blogs which will share my techniques in hopes they will be helpful to others.
In the fall of 2000 my wife and I re-watched (and re-loved) the 1962 film version of To Kill a Mockingbird, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and Mary Badham as Scout. I have always loved the story, which touched me both as a father and as a lawyer. Atticus the fearless advocate had inspired me, but I was also moved by the tenderness between father and daughter.
Since the day I made my first portrait of our daughter Molly more than 20 years ago, photography has been a defining force in my life. It has given me access to people, experiences and places I would not have otherwise known. It has also been a rich source of spiritual contemplation and expression. I know many other folks who share my deep sense of engagement with the process of photography. That is a community in which I live and one which I value deeply.
I've known Jack my entire life. I've celebrated almost every Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter of my 32 years with him and our families. I grew up with his daughters, forging friendships that have lasted into adulthood. I visited his father's hospital bed in his final days, and still hold onto and treasure John's last words to me. And lastly, I remember when Jack first began his love affair with photography, and how it changed him forever.