A Letter from Vincent Van Gogh to his Brother, Theo. July, 1880.

What the molt is for the birds, the time when they change their plumage, is what adversity or misfortune is for us humans, a difficult time. You can stay in this molting period, you can also come out of it like a new man, but nevertheless this is not something to be done in public, it is hardly a laughing matter, which is why you need to hide away. Well, so be it.

So what do you want? Does what happens on the inside show on the outside? There is such a great fire in one’s soul, and yet nobody ever comes to warm themselves there, and passersby see nothing but a little smoke coming from the top of the chimney, and go on their way. 

I am not counting on it, perhaps it will not happen, but if there should be some change for the better, I would count that as so much gain, I would be pleased, I would say “At last! So there was something there after all.”

I am writing to you rather at random just what comes to my pen.

I would be very pleased if you could see me as something other than a kind of idler.

Because there are quite different kinds of idler. There is the man who is idle from laziness and lack of character, from the baseness of his nature. You can, if you like, take me for one of these.

Then there is another kind of idler, who is idle despite himself, who is consumed inwardly by a great desire for action, but who does nothing, because it is impossible to do anything, because it is as if he were imprisoned in some way, because he lacks what he needs to be productive, because inevitable circumstances have reduced him to this. Such a man does not always know himself what he could do, but he feels instinctively: nevertheless I am good at something, I can sense a reason for my existence! I know that I could be quite a different man! How could I be useful, what could I do? There is something within me, but what is it?

That is quite a different kind of idler. You can, if you like, take me for one of these. 

And men are often faced with the impossibility of doing anything, imprisoned in some kind of horrible, horrible, very horrible cage. 

You can’t always say what shuts you up, what walls you in, what seems to bury you alive, but you still feel some kind of bars, some kind of cage, some kind of walls. 

Is all this imagination, fantasy? I don’t think so; and then I ask myself: My God, is it for long, is it forever, is it for eternity?

Do you know what makes the prison disappear? It is every deep, genuine affection. To be friends, brothers, to love, that opens the prison by its sovereign power, its powerful charm. Someone who does not have that remains bereft of life.

Sometimes the prison is called prejudice, misunderstanding, fatal ignorance of this or that, distrust, false shame.

But where sympathy is reborn, life is reborn.

Of Dreams, Falling and Flying

Vivid dreams are a nightly occurrence in my head and dreams where I’m falling from unnatural heights happen more regularly than I might care to admit. It’s not a scary fall, more like a float, soft and slow and silent from thousands of feet in the air. With countless suggested interpretations it’s sometimes tough to decipher my personal dreams’ meaning (and yes, I DO believe that dreams have meaning) but the falling one is clear as day (or night, as it were) – I am fighting against my own limitations.

Since moving to Philadelphia in 2009 I’ve wanted to start a photo project focusing on the unique qualities of this underrated and overlooked city, but somehow all of my ideas lacked the substance, social context and posterity that I desired. That is, until last week when, driving through my own neighborhood, the light bulb went off, inspiration hit and I got really excited.

And also really, REALLY SCARED, ’cause this idea has legs and I’m going to need some balls to execute it to my liking. I have to step out of my comfort zone – waaaayyyyy out – and the only thing keeping this project from getting off the ground are my own limitations: fear, lack of confidence, aloofness, shame and guilt just to name a few.

So am I surprised that I had a falling dream last night? Not really. Except that this one was different.

I was attached to a kite and in complete control – it was less like falling and more like flying. To me this change represents mind expansion, creativity and crossing my own boundaries. Much like woman in the image below I am craning and reaching toward that light, to cross that line in the sand while still feeling bound to the past, to my shortcomings and to darkness.

We all know that we are in charge of our own destiny and if we want something it’s up to us to make it happen. If I want this project to go in the right direction then I need to work for it. Limitations only hinder if you allow them to and they can only be overcome if you work hard.

So now it lies in my hands: fall, or flight?

I choose flight.

Downtown By Design

I’ve been noticing a theme  in a lot of my recent work of lines, shapes and forms found in our everyday lives. I love how things that, on the surface are so simple and mundane, can become complex feats of design and ingenuity when looked at in the right light with the right eye. However, since most if not all of these photos are devoid of people they technically aren’t Street Photography. I’m toying with the idea of creating a new category and portfolio called Downtown By Design to house such photos as I don’t see this theme disappearing anytime soon. What do you think?

 

 

September 28, 2012 - 11:42 am

Leroy - Alix,
Greetings!! I’m a friend of Michael on linkedin through Photography C&PN. I love these pictures..I too have some wonderful street scene of the “old south”, Jacksonville & St. Augustine that are void of people. The album I’m putting together is called…”street scene Jax.St” (could be changed).
I’ve recently “attached” my site to facebook..Rite Way Photographers
Good shooting. Lovely pictures.
Leroy

Creepy-licious

Two more photos from the Roberts Ave shoot. I love the creepy, distressed vibe they have, like this tortured soul is trying to escape the confines of this quaratine-style room. In the top image she reaches for us – I can almost hear her screaming as she claws for freedom.  I love how she peers out at us in the bottom image, those fingers just starting to open the flap – like she is daring to start her escape and challenges us to stop her. In both images I wish I had chosen a different focal point; though it was difficult to focus on anything with those semi-opaque plastic flaps, the body isn’t as sharp as I might have liked. I feel like I succeeded in concept with these two images but fell a bit short technically. Which image do you like better?

September 28, 2012 - 11:46 am

Leroy - NICE..I love black & white, especially where the BLACK is black & WHITE is white.

January 24, 2013 - 12:18 pm

Ocean - Creepy and cold…This is awesome!

Crouching Tiger

I was invited by a friend to shoot a huge abandoned structure in North Philly a while back, the image from my previous post is also from this building and the only photo I liked without a person in it. This was one of those shoots that I loved in-camera while I was shooting it. The space was exciting, the models were electric and we all fed off one another’s inspiration. I went home feeling really good about what I shot.

But when I looked at them on the computer, I liked them less.

Way Less.

To my eye they were all just a little bit off; I should have shifted the model six inches, I should have gotten closer, I should have changed my focal point, tilted the camera, done another take etc. etc.

I nit-picked over every detail of each image until I decided it wasn’t portfolio-worthy and moved on to the next where I did the same thing again.

“Maybe I’m being too hard on myself” I thought.

We are always our own worst critic and it was only minute details that were making or breaking the image. But then I rationalized and thought that – as fine artists – we are supposed to quibble with every last detail and if everything’s not just right then the entire image is lost.

Not wanting to make hasty decisions about their worth, I decided to leave this session alone until I could come back to the images with a fresh eye and perspective. I was able to start that yesterday and have decided to use this image as my first post, mainly because I don’t have much to say about it, but also because it is the only one of its kind and one of the only shots I kept in color.

I like the space, I like the ambiguity of her pose in that we don’t know if she is folding in on herself full of vulnerability and angst or if she is growing and blossoming with confidence and promise. I like the light on the figure, though I wish her head didn’t cross the plane of the radiator in the background.

There are many more images to come from this session, I welcome any feedback both positive and constructively critical as they are all part of the growing process  :)

T w i t t e r
P u r c h a s e