Inspired by SouleMama.
Some years it’s weather that prompts us to tarry longer than we planned before making the 280-ish mile trek to coastal New Jersey. Other years, a dip in health. Some, friends’ invitations to holiday engagements. Others, energy (or severe lack there of.)
This December, check ‘D.’ All of the above.
Christmas Day, instead of opening gifts in David’s parents’ ocean-edge, cliff-top home, D and I took a stroll in the record-setting warmth. The sunlight was gorgeous, so naturally I wandered with my camera.
We weren’t the only ones out and about. (Close, though.)
We were among the few seated for a treat at one of our favorite Jamaica Plain restaurants, Cafe Beirut. Ah, well. More for us.
My first Boston Pride Parade was a revelation. Leather clad ladies on motorcycles. Gyrating men in their underpants dancing to club beats. A politician or two shaking hands while proclaiming progressive platforms. Local health and advocacy groups tossing beads and colorfully packaged condoms, littering the streets with flyers and candy.
I was mesmerized. I was amazed. I’ve gone back again and again.
In the decade or so that I’ve attended (and once, marched with Greater Boston NOW,) the parade has changed. Perhaps matured? Strong in its themes of inclusivity, celebration, activism, and pride, there have been -over the years- a noticeable reduction in near-nude men festooning flatbed trucks and an increase in religious communities, families, politicians, and corporate allies.
Even though I don’t identify as gay, lesbian, queer, or transgender, I’m never the odd person out at Pride, whatever it’s current styling. Which is more than I can say for a certain high school history class where I slumped, hot-faced and confused, as my teacher rattled on about how gays couldn’t serve in the military because they were too limp-wristed and lisping. (Way to disrespect our service members, Mr. Name-I-Can’t-Recall.)
I’m so grateful to my alma mater for helping to release me from the tight hold of an inherited prejudice. My four years at an arts and communication college in Boston were a key folding back a metal lid, out from which exploded a beautiful confetti.
And thank goodness.
For all that is said about how connectivity via the Internet can be a path to real-life loneliness, for as much as I love sliding open the narrow, wooden drawer that contains my letter writing supplies, in 1996 I was handed a gift: my first email address. They called it Eudora.
Eudora was clunky and eventually I transitioned to a version of Hotmail that bears little resemblance to the app I use today on my iPod Touch. (ring, ring. 1996 is calling, it says: an i-WHAT?) (blip, bloop. hey, 2013 texted. It said: surrender your antiquated email client!)
Things happened. And things happened. I grew into a “full-fledged adult” and I rolled my eyes and said: what’s this you say about a face book? I’m not in college anymore. I don’t want to be found. No thanks.
And things happened some more. I carefully ignored then fell victim to numerous web-based communication forms. I hoed my new digital world with a plastic rake.
One day I glanced up and realized the sheer number of people with whom I would no longer have contact without the advent of curious computer languages, (with their funny “<” and “;”), that somehow keep me better informed of new babies, passed on grandmothers, and the hilarious antics cats get up to, than a telephone ever did.
So thank you Internets for round-about bringing our friend, professional photographer Kristy Rowe of Moodeous Photography, to our door, all the way from Denver, Colorado. We shot some awesome pictures in the real-life world, though statistically the three of us were more likely to be separate and lonesome in our homes, serenading our computer mice clickety-clack while bench-pressing bottles of Dr. Pepper.
Also, thank you cats.
About a year ago I obtained a friend’s digital SLR camera on “permanent loan.” What’s permanent loan, you ask, and how’s that different from a gift? Also, doesn’t it bother you knowing someday your friend might ask for the camera back?
I’ve thought these issues through. I’ve wondered, what does it really mean to borrow something without an end date? What happens if the item breaks while in my care? How does it feel to haul this camera around, always with the knowledge that it’s not really mine? If/when I get a new camera, I’ll give the borrowed one back, right (of course, by then it will be truly outdated, as is the way of modern electronics)?
Underlying these questions are my values: limiting my participation in the wastefulness of consumer culture (IMO, today’s digital point-and-shoots have too short a life expectancy), making good use of that which I already own or have access to, look to the wisdom and resources of my community to address my needs.
Even more underlying is the basic desire to connect. Have you ever loaned a book or CD (I’m dating myself!) to a friend in part because the act provides a sly opportunity to further cement that person in your life? Permanent loan is kind of like that, a line of connection and belonging attached at each end to a person. Like family heirlooms and the cotton shirt left behind by an ex or lost parent, borrowing and sharing can imbue items with significance beyond their actual purpose.
So while the newest camera in my fleet is a beautiful tool through which to view the world, it also symbolizes a friendship. Possessing it provides opportunity to play with uncertainty, and it reminds me of the numbers of “things” in my possession that belonged originally to others.
Know who else in my life is on permanent loan?
Like most well-trained kids-of-consumer-culture, I spent a fair amount of time wishing for items I don’t own. And many more moments attempting to correct, or redirect, this behavior. Recently, my obsession has centered around digital cameras, and my lack of a good pocket-size model.
No, it’s not a “good” camera. Better description: toy. And, yet, there are many occasions for which Mr. Clover is up to the task.
Around JP and Jersey this weekend, I declared: This Looks Like A Job For Digi Clover San!
Since I was a child, I have seen the world as collections of stories. Strings of moments -sometimes words, sometimes pictures, or a delicious combination of both.
My relationship with words goes way back to my life in single digits, but my attempts at capturing story in photos is more recent. I’ve been shy. Not for lack of access, inspiration, or role models, but for ways to merge my desire for politeness and conscientiousness with my wish to remain true to my artistic eye.
On numerous occasions during my teen years, I remember driving past a scene on the side of the road that really struck me as one deserving to be recorded -maybe a mother and child waiting for a ride with filled shopping cart. I’d pause the moment, a photograph in my mind. How beautiful their faces, expressions open or closed, expectant. But even if I had the opportunity, I could never intrude.
I owe my renewed interest in photography to my job, where I have served in this role partly because there is no one else. Thousands of shutter presses later, I’m no less reluctant to get personal with my subjects. I tend to sneak around, hunting candid shots, which I usually snap from a safe distance. In most circumstances I ask permission, though at large work events I often don’t. And it’s those occasions when I feel most free to see what I see.
If you are in the habit of taking photos, what’s your approach to the complex question of consent, spontaneity, and art?
Sometimes, a person might receive with barely an ask.
Take, for example, my newest digital camera – the Sony Cybershot. This little pocket point-n-click was gifted to me by friend almost before the words “I really need a new digital camera” left my lips.
The J-Street Camera Fleet welcomes two new members:
1.) Sony Cybershot (I’m still learning how to use, stayed tuned for many over and underexposed snapshots)
2.) David’s Digi Clover San (a birthday gift from me, right in the instructions it is referred to as “quirky” and “toy camera,” so you can imagine the types of photos it produces)
Since I started taking the Olmstead Park path through Jamaica Plain into Brookline, over a year ago, I’ve passed this apple tree in its many forms. Decked out with blossoms, in mid-summer greens, full of knobby, misshapen apples that I’ve seen only Canada geese eat, and once with a raccoon perched crookedly on top like a fur hat, I enjoy the sight of the tree in each of its annual moods. I hope to snap a few more candids as the seasons progress.