Saturday, October 17, 2015

Toward Tangible

I’ve got an odd quirk most photographers don’t have. Little tangible evidence. I live in a loft with piles of cameras and a few photo books spread around. The living room contains the typical furniture, but a good chunk of the floor space is taken up by bicycles. Every bit of storage space available- closets, shelves, foot lockers, under the bed- is taken up with gear for getting out there. Backpacks, shoulder bags, camera bags, panniers, seat bags, frame bags all waiting to be filled. Stoves, food, water filters, compasses, maps, and a thousand other things you need when far from civilization are there as well. It’s pretty obvious what Stephanie and I like to do with our time.

But, aside from the camera storage shelves, you can’t really tell I’m a photographer. You don’t see one thing: any of the photos I’ve taken hanging on the walls.

That is changing.

The great photographer Michael Dunn once said, with equal parts wisdom and pith, “Print yo shit.” The hashtag #printyoshit has made the rounds on twitter thanks to him. It’s popular because it’s right. Our work, as he said, isn’t supposed to be pixels on screens, but rather real, tangible things. If you can’t touch it, hold it in your hands, or put it on a wall, the image isn’t a finished product.

I’m awful at hanging things up. I have prints in binders and hidden in the closet, and I’ve sold prints to others, but none are hanging on my own walls. The only thing hanging on the walls in the adventure loft is a hand printed quote of three words: “Dare Mighty Things.” Theodore Roosevelt said it, and it’s priceless advice. But there’s not a single image I’ve taken hanging with it. It’s time to fix that.

MonstroCity, where Steph slid down slides

MonstroCity, where Steph slid down slides

I’ve always had a twofold problem with hanging things. One: it seemed somehow like bragging to hang your own stuff on the walls. I’m not too much in to bragging about what I’ve done. I always liked Imogen Cunningham’s answer when asked what was the favorite picture she had taken. She always said “the one I’ll take tomorrow.” Which leads to number two: I’ve always only seen the shortcomings in my work and not the positives. I always look at my stuff too critically and fail to see anything of value in it, so I really have nothing to brag about.

So I’m setting aside both of those concerns. Things are going up on the walls. Nothing too much to begin with, a shot from the Andes of Peru, some from the Rocky Mountains, one of my beloved going down a slide. Nothing major, but a start.

I’m daring a little thing. I’ll add more tangible things as I go, and see how I like it.

Michael Dunn

Dare Mighty Things

Toward Tangible

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