Friday, February 29, 2008

Homeless v.1 :: Polaroid

When I came back to Dallas in November I found that many of the promising leads for work I had actually led nowhere. After a couple weeks I began to get worried. I knew that I had to find something to fill my time or I would end up defeated and depressed. My friend Brandon had an assignment to cover a church parking lot who offered it's space to homeless people for sleep. The city has recently made it difficult for the homeless. No longer can they find a corner and fall asleep. Now they have to hide. I went with him.

Not surprisingly we were met very kindly by the community on the lot and I managed to meet a few people. I went back a few days later to talk to the guys I met. I decided to spend a night on the street with them. I wasn't looking for a project. Just something legitimate to fill my time. I was hoping to get a broader perspective on how the homeless in Dallas live.

My contacts were two older men in their 50s. Johnie was small and unassuming. He didn't speak much. He would rather listen...and he never passed judgment. He was well groomed, well mannered, and sober. Skeet was tall and very assuming. Like Johnie, he was well groomed (although he sported an nice 3 week beard.) He too was well mannered, sober, and extremely intelligent. He was fluent in five languages. Neither man drank or partook in drugs. They did smoke cigarettes. It was surprising to see these men on the streets. They appeared quite capable and from what I saw they were just down on their luck. A cliché. Lost their jobs and no one wanted to hire a man in his 40s.

I began seeing the men every day or so. This went on for a month and a half. I always carried my camera. I never felt like I got deep enough into their lives though. Much of our time together was spent sitting and talking. Not much action. I kept waiting for more.

Around the holidays I got my Polaroid Land Camera. I figured that despite the lack of action, I could at least take some portraits. In fact, most of the portraits were not of Johnie or Skeet, but of other people I met on the street.

These are the Polaroids from those days. Johnie and Skeet are in the first picture.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cheese and Cookies

Some photos are Cheese to the max. You like them but you know you shouldn't. It's not that they are bad...necessarily. I mean, they can be creative. Usually the Cheese had gone bad though. It smells like last year's fashion. Or sometimes last decade's. It isn't until two decades later that they become cool again. I find myself thrust into the Cheese situation on occasion. I have to take the picture. I also have to shoot the Cookies.

A Cookie photo has been noted as being boring, simple, and manufactured. One of 100. Again, not a bad situation...necessarily. You can count on a Cookie. Often the Cookie is a necessary sister to Cheese. They play off each other's qualities. Alone...either can be just plain bad. An eye sore.

Together they might almost form a union.

Then again...they might not. In that case, you can always reflect on Cheese and Cookies to remember what to do better.

Political Polaroid

Polaroid has announced that it will no longer be making instant film. That means no more polaroids. That is sad. Fuji still makes it...but not for much longer I suspect.

I just got a land camera. Built in 1967, it still works perfect. It gives me the artistic feeling of working with film and the instant gratification I have come to expect by working with digital. It is perfect. It even smells funky and gross (artsy of course.)

I will be sad to see it go.

Until then, I will be buying as much of it as I can, shooting as much as I can, and posting as much as I can.

Politics and Such

Texas, it turns out, has become a linchpin in the race to become the Democratic nominee for president.

I have been planning to attend the Democratic National Convention in Denver next August. Both to get mixed in with the hype and just to get back to the mountains. I wasn't expecting to see the excitement so soon.

Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to shoot the political craziness for a publication. I have gone to shoot it just for fun. Yeah, I know. How can that be fun? Maybe it is just the energy of being around people who really have hope and faith that their candidate can create change for them. I am too bitter for that. I just don't think either Clinton or Obama will be able to undo what has been done... and blame can't just be placed on the most recent clown that that held office. The problems facing the United States today are a result of 200 years of bad politics, not eight.

So...while I am hesitant to get too excited over the next election, it is refreshing to see a real sense of urgency and willingness to participate from the public. Both candidates represent a change in appearance. That is good. It is obviously time to move beyond electing the same old white man for president. I just wonder how different either of the Democrats are from that same old school political mentality. Hillary boasts experience...experience in the same system that she claims to change. I don't buy it. For some reason, though I am drawn to her. People say she is scary. I think I like that a little. Obama really seems to give hope and bring people together. For that I think he could be great. He boasts his ability to create change from his experience with grassroots organizations. I wonder how much this experience can transmit the hope to the rest of the world. I like both...but I am skeptical of both as well.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Little Art, A little Cowboy

I finally made it to Ft. Worth, Texas. I drove all the way from Dallas. An entire hour.

I have heard great things about Ft. Worth. I'd like to start making it to some smaller Texas towns and Ft. Worth almost feels like one. I can sense the true Western images I have grown to expect. I just can't see them. They must be in the next town over.

Our first stop was the modern art museum in town. It was pretty nice. The building had a very cozy feel that helped make the art more creative. Or maybe it was the coffee I had first. The museum is small, but the quantity was really not the point. The point was leaving town...for a little time at least. There is a cool art exhibit currently showing. An animation made from watercolor paintings, stop-action figures, and sculptures. It was made by Joshua Mosley.

After the museum we made it to the stock yards. Simply a lame excuse exploit the once small Western city that I still hope to see. There was even a guy painted like an Indian. He put hand prints on his horse as cave paintings. Could he have been more offensive? If I had tried to get a picture I surely would have been charged a tourist fee. No thanks.

We then had a quick burger. The bun fell apart! Bad buns will ruin the best of meals. The least I expected from the stock yards was a good burger. It was OK though. Good fries. Good atmosphere. If wasn't for that bun...grrr.

Museum...Fake Indian...Bad Bun...Oh, and a candy store. That was fun too.