The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I picked up the collection of film taken along The Middle Road. The bag weighed as much as my toddler. I haven't yet calculated how many rolls of film I shot on the 7660 mile/ 23 day / 23 state trip, though I know for sure it was an intense education for my photographic eye, the film as evidence. And my savings account can prove it, too. (Yes, I shoot almost exclusively with film. Yes it still exists. Yes, there's a whole industry around it. Yes it's expensive - feel free to donate your hard earned dollars to help me continue my photographic work here.)
As I review the images from the journey this year, I dream of a book to share. I've reached out to various photographic avenues and galleries, done my fair share of social media marketing, submitted to photo contests, visited portfolio reviews, and have so far come to the conclusion - nobody really cares. Yet.
Sure, nobody gives a shit so far, but at some point, when the political dust settles, (oy!, that might be a long while from now) as my grandchildren sit on my lap asking for stories of my life, I can show them what the United States looked through my eyes - the eyes of a middle-aged, working class artist with two other jobs to attempt to pay the bills. Through the eyes of a woman with two kids, and a home in one of the most expensive and stressful housing markets of all time, a woman with an ivy league education who wouldn't be able to afford to live as a single person even if she wanted to, and who routinely is turned down for decent waged jobs - for over 16 years has been looking for a decent job with growth potential that didn't suck the life out of me. Life is conundrum, says I to my future grandchildren. There is no rhyme or reason. Just do what makes you happy, I say. And anyone can become President, no matter who tells you differently. Yes, even you.
And I say, I want a book. A real book. I'm not talking about a Blurb book, I'm talking about a fully edited, fully vetted, hard covered, essay-filled photography book. Yeah, yeah, it's a long journey to make that happen, and yes, I want it. So let's get it on.
Not just for my grandchildren, but for yours too - and maybe even you need to see some more images of America through the eyes of someone not associated with the press. Not in a movie, not on Facebook, not in the New York Times, but in your living room when you are on the couch on a rainy day - able to stare at scenes in Wyoming or Mississippi, places that even if you were driving through maybe you wouldn't stop because it was unfamiliar, but this book gives you freedom to stop and stare for as long as you'd like, and revisit. You're transported, momentarily, to a beauty that existed around the election of 2016 that, even at that point in time, even now, you thought the beauty of America had been erased. Or maybe you'd like to forget 2016 altogether. That's valid.
With these images, I want to show that even in the height of political mayhem, the land of the United States is beneath one brilliant sun along one grand horizon, one remarkable history that is seen in the landscape, and even when NPR is blasting unimaginable realities, the evidence of the reality of American politics in 2016 is impossible to see unless we go out there and really take a look. We can't see what's going on unless we pay attention. We can't see what's going on in America unless we are actually looking first, observing, not analyzing, not making up stories. Looking, listening.
And this is what I've been doing. Observing. I'm not an expert. I hope to never be one. There are too many people that claim to be experts. I know those people get book deals, lots of them, and it's frustrating. But I can't sell expertise. Observation is my sale. And I think that's much more valuable a commodity these days. Call it a path not paved. Not yet.
So ping me if you know of a guy/gal. Galleries and editors and publishers galore, I'd love to share these images some more.
Check out Part II of some of the images I'm sorting through now