This image, Late Afternoon, Listening Vessel, is part of a larger, ongoing body of work that began nearly ten years ago of my, now twenty-three year old, daughter Annalee.
I’ve felt that to accurately and honestly document a person, or place, in still photographs is next to impossible. Both are dynamic and seem ever changing. When I started this series photographing Annalee, I wanted to photograph her in a way that reflected that sense of movement and constant change. Both pinhole cameras and toy cameras helped me do that. These types of cameras seem to play with time and space in such a way that the resulting still images don’t appear fixed to me; rather they seem as fluid as the people or places being photographed. Images made using these cameras often evoke the sense for me that bits and pieces of dreams or memories—in just the sort of fractured way we often recall them—are being shared. The resulting images are not all that clear or well defined, but often more revealing and authentic than any sort of literal documentation with the best glass lens. The more ‘low tech’ I get, the happier I am with my resulting images.
This particular photograph was originally taken in 2008 with a vintage toy ‘Diana’ camera, using FujiColor 120 film. I then scanned the original film and made digital color separation negatives. I used those negatives to make a tri-color gum bichromate print, hand-coated on Rives BFK heavyweight archival paper. This print was made in 2010. I prefer doing my own printing, and using a 19th century hand applied process to print these images meshes well with the ‘Diana’ camera. The results can be more interpretive as well. The “Listening Vessel” itself is a sculpture located on the North Carolina State University campus.
This series is very much collaborative between my daughter and me. Over the years, the process has been a complex one—always fun, often comical, sometimes tiring, and exasperating—but always with a surprise and revelation.