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Entries in portraits (51)

Monday
Jan272014

Windows in the Dark

The darkroom monitor was disapproving when I turned up with Ezra in tow.  You're not supposed to bring children because of the chemicals, she said.  His babysitter fell through, I tried to explain.  She let me in grudgingly.  I had a whole bag of film to develop but I picked three rolls, set Ezra in the corner with the iPad, and disappeared into the dark, dark, darkroom.

There is something so comforting about that space, a little cocoon.  I feel safe there in the quiet and dark.  I know what happens in there is predictable and orderly, but even with the chemistry, with the agitating and the fixing and the rinsing and the watching the seconds tick down on the clock, it feels like magic.

I cursed when I pulled this spool out of the tank.  I rolled this precious document of a day on the Pacific backwards.  Now I gingerly pull the mangled plastic off the reel to reveal a windblown Meghan, mostly obliterated by my clumsy out-of-practice hand.

Still, she's there, in some ethereal form, wispy like my memory of the day.   There, in the dim basement of an old mansion in Capitol Hill, I can smell the salt air of the wet Northwest.

I could hear Ezra's iPad spelling game on the other side of the door, so I ducked out to adjust his earphones.  Plunged back into quiet, I was luckier with subsequent rolls.  I pulled little windows on another world out of the darkness. 

Twelve little squares, stacked on top of one another, transport me to a place where friends like Tara patiently allow me to set and reset, meter and re-meter, before, finally, click.

Debra too, in the melancholy light and shadow.  I remember this weekend as fun, but more than that.  It was a tender balance of deep and delicate shared truth.

In this dim little closet, with the iPad and the disapproving darkroom monitor on the other side of the door, there's a satisfying quiet and rhythm of alchemy.  In the darkroom the rest of the world goes away, and each little frame of celluloid is like a crystal ball vision of a moment far away.  On this day, it was a portal to an accepting sisterhood and love.

Wednesday
May222013

Irresistible

Thursday
Dec202012

The Great Gear Chase

The lovely and talented Tara Romasanta at The Parker, Palm Springs, CAIt is so easy, as a photographer, to fall into the trap of the Great Gear Chase.  There is always a better body, or a faster lens, or a smoother ball head or a new iPhone that will certainly be just the thing to elevate our work or change the way we see.  Except that it almost never does.

I know all this down to my bones but that doesn't stop me from wanting, and occasionally getting, a new toy anyway.  Today I'm guest blogging over at Mortal Muses about my latest acquisition (hint:  the above picture of Tara was one of the first I made with it) and the way it is actually changing my work - or at least the way I think about it.  I would love it if you'd join me there.

Monday
Oct012012

Fountain of Youth

Ezra, 4th birthdayDear Ezra,

You turned four around the time that I started to notice that I'm going to turn 40.  Not tomorrow, but one day, and sooner than I'd like.  Everyone says 40s are the new blah blah blah, and I'm sure they're right, but nobody says 40s are young. Nobody says oh I was 45 and beautiful and carefree.  This is the sort of pointless script that's been running through my head lately, when I am not either crushingly busy or fastidiously quieting my mind.  Which is still enough of the time to be noticeable.

A friend told me that four-year-olds are obsessed with death.  I hadn't noticed until we watched March of the Penguins together and you asked me why did the baby penguin diiiiiiiiiiiie? for days on end.  Since then you have specialized in threat assessment.  Nearly every day you mentally follow one risk or another through to its logical conclusion, invariably some form of if you (fill in the blank) could you get dead?  To which I reply, yes, if you (swallow glass) (jump from a high place) (play with fire) you could die.  In my head I also note and if you (eat too much bacon) (don't take your fish oil) or, you know, (just keep waking up every day).  Apparently we are both preoccupied with mortality.

My godmother sent me a primer on Buddhism and you'll never guess what example the author uses, right there in the first chapter, to illustrate the basic concept of attachment.  Our attachment to our body.  Our vanity.  Our fetishization of youth.  In other words, I am a textbook case.  The Dalai Lama thinks I am a cliche.

I was hoping to justify my fixation as maintenance, like haircuts and eyebrow waxes.  Harmless.  I could harvest your knock-knock jokes and inject them into my laugh lines.  Emulsify your imagination, and smooth it over my age spots.  Collect the eyelashes you shed and let an obsessive-compulsive aesthetician glue them onto my own, one by one, the world's most luxurious extensions.

Is it creepy to fetishize your own child's youth?  I hope not.  I wouldn't really steal one moment from you, one innocent query, sweet boy.  Witnessing your curiosity as you piece the world together is one of my chief joys.  I would rather (go gray) (sag) (wrinkle) (learn to meditate) than rob you of a thing.  After all, if everything goes well, I'll have a long, long time to get progressively wrinklier, saggier, grayer (and hopefully more detached) before I get dead.

All my love,

Mama

Monday
Sep102012

Elegy for Summer

You go to the desert and you can breathe.  It's stark and vast and just maybe there's enough room here to  allow for your spinning wheels to wind themselves down, until

(finally)

you're still.

The summer was one long high-rev, and it was everything you planned, except you forgot to schedule in the rest that makes the thrills thrilling.  You feel like a shit for complaining about back-to-back-to-back thrills, but it might actually be better than feeling

(nothing)

which is mostly all there is left to sense.

There is no

(center)

(ground)

(connection)

energy.

There are

(hurt feelings)

(double-bookings)

(over-sleepings)

many things and people that you miss.

So you go to the desert, and you wonder

why, again, am I here?

and you pedal through strange dreamscapes, finally noticing you are unable to outrun resistance.

(gee, it took you long enough)

And just then you are so tired that the only thing left to do is

(surrender)

(center)

(ground)

and your heart takes flight.