Friday, May 16, 2008

Taking Inventory

photos (c) 2007, Incorrigible Curmudgeon

Ever since 9-11, I have endeavored to make a point of not taking things for granted. And as a photo documentarian I have always strived to be a vernacular iconographer, an artist capturing, celebrating, and immortalizing in my photos the everyday things and places we too often take for granted, things we will look back on in 30 years saying "whatever happened to?" Like gas stations with signs advertising gas at 29.9. Or the original McDonalds or Little Tavern restaurants. Or storefronts plastered with signs for products that no longer exist.
One could argue that there is nothing 'vernacular' about the U.S. Capitol bldg. or the Washington Monument, but they are certainly among the things we Washingtonians take for granted, barely giving them a glance when we spy them while walking down the street or looking out of our workplace windows. During my commute there is one place at the corner of North Capitol St. and Michigan Avenue where I can see them both. I haven't had much success photographing the monument from my moving car as the monument ducks in and out of the filtration silos for the MacMillan Reservoir at that corner, but here is a shot of the Capitol dome, looking down North Capitol from my car. I shot the monument from the roof of my garage at work. And every day I'm in DC, I continue to take inventory.
What are the things you take for granted in your towns? Whatever they might be, New York has taught us to never do so again.


Danielle said...

I couldn't agree more. I guess I kind of view photography that way too. A way of capturing and preserving a highly specific moment in time or place or event that will never look that way or progress in the same way again. That's why I love street photography so much. And why I loved your photos of Chicago.

I try not to take any city I live in for granted but your views of the murals and of Lake Michigan made me realize there are a lot of things that are so common to me, things I've grown up seeing so much that I don't look at them as "worth" preserving.

Or something like that.

Dr. F. said...

Thanks, Dani. We tend to take everyday places (our own towns) and people (our own families) for granted when it comes to subjects worthy of our cameras, and I'm happy that you have an evolved sense of the impermanence of the world around us, especially for someone so young. In thirty years you will have amassed an impressive archive documenting the world you've experienced, and I look forward to seeing it. Thanks you for your thoughtful comments.