This past week, I cracked open my old photographs, contained in five, bulging 3-ring binders. Each roll of film’s negatives were meticulously labeled within plastic, and its corresponding proof sheet following it. It is the sum of most of my photography, at least in terms of black and white, slide, and medium format film. There’s a scattering of land polaroids. And prints made in the darkroom. Plus some old newspaper reviews and programmes. It was a part of me that I’d not bothered looking at for many, many years. And now, being older, I expected more out of myself. But here was a collection of fledgling experimentation. No idea fully developed.
I started my photography when Mrs. Mealiffe, my high school art teacher, placed her Rollei 35 in the palm of my upturned right hand, and I felt it’s comforting weight. I’ll never really know what Mrs. Mealiffe thought of me, for her chin was uplifted slightly, all a mixture of part slyness, part pride, part dare. Or perhaps that was my reading of her expression. Mrs. Mealiffe planted the seed.
From there, I played. What is this strange set of books? My very own Griffin & Sabine-like biography. From the years 1989 to 2003, my experiences with are chronicled. They show my school years, ranging from the end of high school, and up until past graduate school. High school shots felt more about shapes and structures. With no subject but the school, I shot
angles and played with texture. The delight with black and white is immediate. I recall winning second prize at the local Key Club’s student photo contest, with a shot of a snake coiled on a branch. I already have the eye in understanding the need for a full tonal range.