Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Okay, Folks—That’s a SoFoBoMo Wrap

The book is done.

Here is the link:
[Note: Designed to view “two-up” (View—Page Display—Two-Up, Show Gaps, Show Cover Page During Two-Up)]

It’s too late to make any more changes. It is what it is. Whew! What a trip. Ups and downs, chug-holes, bridges out, signals not working, detours, and dead ends—and all in all splendid, priceless, and unforgettable.

When I was growing up, I begged my mother to tell me this story more than once. Mom grew up on a farm in Texas and one day, her grandfather took her out with him in the wagon behind a fresh team. Some portion or other of the rigging broke, spooking the horses, and they took off across the rough terrain out of control and with plenty of energy to burn. My great-grandfather was holding on to the useless reins for dear life and trying to be certain that his tiny, screeching granddaughter was staying put on the seat beside him. After what was for the driver a hair-raising, out-of-control race, up and down gullies, scraping rocks, and bouncing off logs, the horses finally tired, and the poor man dared to take a breath. When the team slowed to a walk, he turned pale and shaken, to the tyke next to him and before he could offer any comfort she blurted through a big grin, “That was fun, Grandpa. Do it again.”

I'm with that little girl on the wagon seat. Let’s do it again.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

SoFoBoMo Final Stretch

(Click on the thumbnail to view larger image)

As I make my way through the final stages on my book, I am shaking my head over some of the discoveries.

1. This isn’t the book I intended to make. When I signed up for SoFoBoMo, I was looking forward to trying my hand at producing an elegant book with a small number of images (close to the required limit) that would somewhat accurately represent the best work I am capable of at this point in my life and still stay within the time limits. I thought I was making a book to learn about producing a photo book and get past the fears of tackling such a mammoth project, so I would be encouraged to later produce such a book without the time constraints. I intended to be shrewd and disciplined by including little text—to make it a photo book in the purest sense of the term. That decision would allow me to focus exclusively on the images and the layout thus saving valuable time.
Instead, I ended up making something that met almost none of my initial objectives.

2. The book has turned out to be bulky (plenty of text, after all), and a much bigger mess than I thought I could tolerate, but each time I have tried to make it fit into anything vaguely resembling that elegant image in my mind, the whole thing fell apart and became so utterly meaningless that I couldn’t bear to finish it.

3. Choosing a very personal focus for my book ended up being a double-edged sword. The hunger to capture images that would later serve as a bittersweet reminder of the home I have loved for twenty years provided the emotional heat that powered me through the long hours, but perhaps melted my brain. The book is a mass of contradictions and examples of a project gone berserk. For example, there are far too many images in the book for the project I wanted to produce and only about half enough to satisfy the hunger that drove the work. Furthermore, while I envisioned something simple and elegant, the final product is sprawling, decidedly untidy, and as much in need of pruning as the locations that I photographed.

4. Ultimately, this is a reminder that all creative endeavors are a messy business and filled with unpredictability—indeed, for many of us that is part of its joy. I am pretty much spent and have left for myself this one day for proofing text and finding assorted gremlins.

5. The journey has been frustrating, exhausting, inspiring, and I have crammed more new information into my head in the two months of preparation and execution than I dreamed possible. Still, I am grateful that I lost my head and signed up to be part of this madness.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bitter in Los Angeles

Once again, the bad guys have ruined something the rest of us treasured. The gang that recently converged on Gabrieleno Park leaving their garbage behind after firing their weapons (either at one another or in the air, who knows) have shut down the park for evenings. Effective immediately, the entire area will close at sunset. Still another example of why so many of us flee what were so few years ago vibrant, family-friendly neighborhoods. While we don’t live in the area adjacent to the park, many of our friends do and the park and the surrounding area—including the arena, have been favorite places for us. If I were staying here, I would be fighting mad. As it is, it just makes me terribly, terribly sad that we stand by and cede our cities to outlaws, while a law-abiding citizen must risk a fine—or something far worse, for wanting to stay out on Haul Road long enough to drink in moments like the one above.

I know it’s not smart to write about such a hot topic when overtired and steaming mad. But, this kind of stuff keeps chipping away at our lives and it’s infuriating.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

SoFoBoMo Mirage

Would you post a blowup of this shot? I didn't think so. Now that I think about it, I am embarrassed I put my name on it. I was just desperate to find something for this post.

No, I didn’t move to the desert and change my name. But, I thought about it. More than once. For now, I’m hangin’ on ‘cuz I can see that finish line way over yonder, if I squint my eyes real tight. I think I can even see two or three fellers standing there wavin’ this direction. I’m just gonna keep on headin’ that way, and I reckon I’ll be there come Wednesday or Thursday—if this rig’ll hold up and the mules don’t croak.

But, I’m not getting punchy or anything.

P.S. I changed the title of this post this morning because silly as this is, it does relate to SoFoBoMo.