Through a Door in Bodie
Last week, just sitting around, trying to beat the heat, I got a phone call from a gentleman in Scottsdale Arizona, who had bid on a photograph, in a 1991 art auction. He said he took a stab in the dark, saw my phone number on the yeeha site, and thought to try calling me. For me, this was a great call, you see, he told me the photograph had been all over the country, that it was one of his favorite pieces. I knew exactly the photograph he was speaking off, I told him that my four sisters had fought over a print of that opening door, he said that the photograph had real meaning to him. Saying that where ever he had lived, over the last, close to twenty years, the photograph he bought at auction, has been up on his wall. I told him of how the photograph came to be, how I was on a photography workshop, that we had split into three groups, each group going off with one of the three instructors. This took place on the final day, it had been a difficult week for me. Hours were spent in classroom settings, discussing things I knew nothing of, I guess that’s what classroom settings are for. All three of the instructors gave their slant on exposure, development, the zone system, darkroom chemistry, paper choices, etc. The only darkroom experience I had to this point, was in my old friend Craig Stulls basement as a kid. We wanted to make big prints, but we didn’t want to buy big trays. We bought big paper, chemistry, and a bag of cotton balls. We swabbed on the developer, then the stop, then the fix. We made a real mess, as we made big prints. The point is, I was way over my head at this workshop. By mid week, I wasn’t feeling to good about my own work, I had been viewing work of the other participants over three days, and just felt my own to be insignificant. On the fourth day I started to climb out of that valley, I finley was clear on why I had come to this workshop. At that time, I had no idea, where I would be led. Alchemy I find messmorising, the definition of alchemy is, “a power or process, of transforming something common, into something special”. Looking back, I realize it was at that mid week point of this workshop, that I first engaged that process. So on that last day in Bodie, my group went into a small house, and all sat down around a period kitchen table. Bodie is an old gold mining town, somewhat frozen in time. When the gold was done, most people left, the town has a feeling of being old. We all talked about what we were feeling, how it must have been in the good times, what it was like in the bad, how desolate a location, how someone surely could feel isolated. There was a sense of sacrifice and reward in this town, of walking off into the unknown. We spent quite a long time talking around that table, and in the end, we were told to make a photograph, that was reflective of our feelings of this place. The photograph this gentleman called me about, was looking through the door at Bodie. This possibly, the first time I had thought in this way, an attempt to photograph my emotion in a frame. As a photographer, I walked through that door, there is a lot of meaning in that photograph for me, hearing that someone, other than myself, found a meaning for them self in my work, is as high a complement as I have ever received!