I’ve been here in Rabun Gap, Georgia for about a week, have
been photographing every day, have even photographed for two days in a row in
the rain, enjoyed the other residents I have met and find I am partly dreading
all this coming to a close but also looking forward to heading home.
A good residency completely disconnects you from your world
and puts you in another. Hambidge is a very good one. I shared with you
earlier what my studio looks like.
No phone, no internet, no one knocking on your door, no noise, nothing
to pull you away from being creative, if you you're able. I don’t know about you but I make a routine of wherever
I am if given a few days. Here it has been: get up, make breakfast, get clean,
get dressed, do the dishes, make the bed, get my gear together (formatted card
in camera, batteries fully charged), load car, head out on the day’s adventure.
Adventure? Absolutely, as that is how I feel about this life I lead when
photographing. Early light is almost best so early I go. The other morning I
got about ¾ of a mile before I came across this on the same road as my studio:
OMG this was so beautiful! This had me thinking of, in this order, Ansel Adams and then
beauty in photographs, cliché, then, that part of the role of art is to make new
statements (which this is not), then color, and lastly, and this is something I
do quite frequently these days, 8 x 10 verses present day digital.
But other things I find to photograph are often farther
away. One day last week I drove north to Franklin, NC, southwest towards
Hiawassee, Georgia then back to Clayton, then back home. Took me most of the
day and I had a gazillion photographic adventures along the way, a great day. I even stopped
by outside of Hiawssee at something I’d shot in 2004 when last here. Back then I came across a housing development being built and almost finished nestled up
against a lake and made a series of black and white pictures there using the Hasselblad Super
Wide. I don’t have it on the site but will put it in when I back home. This
time I gave it a nod but did not photograph it, now almost ten years later.
Here are some pictures made over the past week:
This one above I just made this morning along the edge of Lake Rabun.
I have made random pictures but some series too and will
share the series in blogs to come soon. One called “Lakeside" is of buildings
that rim the man made lakes in the area. I have photographed at Lake Burton and
Lake Rabun. Another is a black and white series of an abandoned car wash on the
drive here from Asheville. And another is so far unnamed but of an amazing
embankment on a curve high in the mountains.
I love the way the two yellow lines on the road stop before the end of the frame on the right side.
This above epitomizes my current obsession which is to put these incredible trees with their leaves just now coming out up against the mountains in the background. I wish I had an easier obsession as it is very difficult to 1) find the right tree, 2) to find a tree with the right background behind it, 3) to find a clearing in the road so that I can shoot through it from the side of the road along these mountain passes and 4) to get above these trees so as to place them in the frame with the hills behind, meaning with no sky and no horizon line. No wonder I tend to scream when I find one.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking why is he so interested in these trees in this way? Because I know something you may not. I know what these are going to look like 37 inches across. They will be spectacular.
Finishing up for now a few more:
This last one from the top of Black Mountain in the rain over the weekend.
Some advice about residencies (sometimes they are called retreats): if you're thinking of applying, do your homework. One good way to start is to get the bible of books on residencies: Artist Communities. This lists all of them and is updated every few years. Don't apply to a residency if you can't do it if accepted. Apply to ones that are placed where you'd like to be and that will give you the time you need. Be careful for what you wish for. Most residencies cut you the time and space to work. Don't like to be alone? Not for you. Don't have a project in mind? Likewise. Does being in an empty room for 8 or 10 hours with maybe some image files, some paper and a pencil, perhaps a camera, or a computer or a book seem like heaven or hell? Figure that part out.
I remember when I had my residency in Syracuse, NY in September right after 9/11 at Lightwork. There they pay you, give you your own apartment and let you loose on wonderful digital facilities and darkrooms, with the best person ever to help you, John Mannion. I arrived, got settled in and then went to Jeff Hoone, the director, and asked him what I should do. Did I need to meet with students, give a lecture, show them work? He said, just work, that was it. This was a time for me to concentrate on making art without distractions. The good ones are that, there are others that will require commitments from you, perhaps some teaching or some duties. Again, do your homework.