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Entries in film (3)


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.


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.


Gutsy: Interview with an Artist

This is Christopher Owen Nelson, a painter and the subject of a short film a friend and colleague is making.  My friend asked me if I would interview Chris for the film and what followed was a coffee-fueled two hour conversation about how he knew he had to be an artist, what inspires him, his process, and the similarities between art making and fly fishing. 

Chris has created a technique of carving and painting sheets of acrylic into vivid images of the natural world. There are a lot of trees in his work, and he told me that he thinks of painting them as portraits rather than landscapes.  You've probably noticed by now how much I love both portraits and trees so this whole idea basically made me tingle.

Even in a weekend of snowy Colorado fun this stood out as a highlight for me.

I don't want to scoop the film, so I won't spoil too much about the conversation here.  But I will share this: we talked about what it looks like when gutsy shows up in your heart, studio, work.  Since I often get paralyzed in the thinking part of, well, everything, this part of his response struck me:

At some point, you just can't go around thinking your whole life.  You've got to pour some resin into a mold.  You've got to rip something out.

You've just go to do.  Do.


More doing.  Less thinking.  It was on my list of intentions for the year.  Here it is, showing up again.

What does gutsy look like for you?