Experimentation, Place and Pattern

Unfettered experimentation is a core component of my photo practice. Allowing time and space to wander down creative roads that may or may not lead anywhere is usually more productive than not - if even for filing for future ideas or general skill building. There are so many ways to engage with photography and ways to create work and I'm always interested in methods that can visually layer and stack meaning. The combinatorial potential of photography opens up so many paths for expressing ideas, feelings and beauty.

This image is the result of pushing an idea through many iterations and seeing how far I could take it without the original idea breaking down. By processing a detail of an historic map showing soil types in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico - distilling it to it's fine lines - and repeating it over a repeating photograph of a forest fire fueled sunset in Santa Fe - it creates an abstract and layered portrayal of place through time and elements. Because of it's size (44" square), viewing it up close shows the linear textures, details and text in the map and from a distance they blend to create a damask-like pattern. An idea I'm definitely keeping for future development.

Obsidian Hunting

Well, with me it's always about hunting for photos and searching out interesting trees (first loves always), but I do love minerals. Given the sad state of my knee, this was a rare outing to go rock hounding (with my guy and our dear friend) on Obsidian Ridge amidst the remnants of the 2011 Las Conchas Forest Fire in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. Situated between the supervolcano of Valles Caldera, Bandelier National Monument and the city of Los Alamos, obsidian lies in abundance on the ground, produced by a volcanic eruption 1.4 million years ago. Hiking along the exposed ridge among the burned stags, smoke from a distant forest fire and sweeping mountain views it feels eerie, old and earthy. No cell service, no people save for us three, just the sound of the whistling wind rushing though the valleys and glossy black obsidian winking in the sun. 

Border Light

“In all the activities of life...our whole effort must be to get out of our own light.”  -Aldous Huxley

Taken the day before the August solar eclipse, these photos of a long-favorite forest walk in Olympia, Washington got me thinking about the intersection of light and dark and how it's a symbolically and physically dynamic space. How the light punctuates the deep shadows, which are the greater substance in the frame. How the light is what more draws the attention, distracting from the peripheral shadows.

Shortly after, I came across the above quote by Aldous Huxley. It reminded me of these photos and also  philosophically embodies my thoughts about growth and potential and how our shadow selves play an intrinsic role in those processes.

More and more I feel like our substance and depth, our largeness and potential, lies deep and wide outside the narrow focus of our own light, in the unexplored and undeveloped parts of ourselves that we are hesitant to engage. That our light is a boundary marker between our current limits and our untapped potential.

Not that "letting our inner light shine" isn't important, but to see it as only one facet of our development, to know it’s place in the expanse of our potential. Not to see it as the end-goal, but a jumping off point.

Following that thread, one could say that we hide in our light more than our shadows. With such cultural emphasis on "shining bright" we often end up fetishizing it, missing the greater opportunities that lie in the shadows, the uncomfortable edge places that can lead us to deeper wisdom and capabilities.

Anyhow, these photos are a visual metaphor for some things I've been thinking about lately as they relate to a different photo project I'm working on.

And Woodard Bay Conservation Area is a wonderful place to visit.

Eclipse the Light Fantastic

To spend time with my mom and step dad is to drop into our own alternate universe. There is much laughter, creativity, deep discussion, spontaneity, forgiveness, affection and love. The kind that is hard won and born of the deep understanding of how different things could be.

As is the case with many (most?) families, ours has a history of darkness and trauma. Long before my step dad graced our life, my mother was running from her dysfunctional family, dragging me through a childhood of insecurity, poverty and violence. Under the auspices of the 70's hippy counter-culture movement, it was a more lawless, drug fueled and violent existence than that of peace and love. That we are alive, joyful and share a loving relationship today is rather miraculous. We've traversed dark emotional territory, separately and together, and emerged stronger, more resilient versions of ourselves - keeping the sparkliest parts intact.

Taken during the span of the total solar eclipse in August 2017, these photos document my little family’s viewing and activities during that brief time. From an impromptu decision to join the neighbors on their lawn to rummaging through my mom’s glitter and lace collection – the grandness of the celestial event took a backseat to just being together in the moment.

In sifting through these photos months later, the metaphors that thread through them - darkness and light, obscured or focused vision, connected celestial bodies and woven threads - all seem poignantly relevant beyond the dance of the sun and moon that day. They remind me of what we’ve been through, what we're made of and how far we’ve come. 

Down the Rabbit Hole

This past April I had the tremendous pleasure of attending a week-long workshop taught by the talented and generous, Aline Smithson (photographer, founder and editor of Lenscratch, educator and reviewer), at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops

The assignments during the class were not so much about creating lasting work, but to practice specific concepts that we could carry into our future work. One of our several field trips was to Meow Wolf and from the photos I took there I created a short, narrative story - a surreal, sci-fi take on an experiment studying cell phone use. I still rather like it.