We had a pleasant coastal adventure last week, replete with cameras, wine, and abundant sunshine. My sister came to visit, and along with her two lovely daughters and my wife, the watercolor painter, we rented a condo in Agate Beach, which is near Newport on the Oregon coast. Seemed everyone was in total shock at our great and good fortune, as we happened to have hit that perfect window of opportunity: the first multi-day span of time since, apparently, the Jurassic period wherein the sun was bright, the temperature was warm, and the seas were calm; an early-spring trifecta that the locals would have you believe will never occur again. There was much rejoicing in the land, except, of course, for me. This is not what I came for.
But I am being selfish; it is exactly what my traveling companions hoped for. My little sister, who owns a portrait photography business, lives in the untangled wilderness of suburban Denver, whose denizens not only experience up to 300 sunny days a year, but come to regard it as some sort of birthright. So what do they know. My nieces, young and lovely in an Ipanema-like way, need the sun to survive. A year in Oregon could easily prove fatal. And my wife is a painter; sunshine is Giverny. But sunshine just doesn't do it for me.
Let me make this clear, I'm a downright cheerful guy. I'm only thinking photographically. It seems to me that when the sun shines brightly, I end up taking pretty pictures and maybe not a lot more. And like I said, that's not what I came for. The colors are too easily blown away; the shadows impenetrable. It doesn't even have to be gloomy or foggy (although extra points if it is!) but even a little overcast reveals so much more about the world than we are sometimes prepared to see. These kinds of images are (for me, anyway) more personal, more intuitive, and often reflect inner states that surprise the hell out of me. As I've said here many times, art is autobiography. If I'm going to share my images and thus my stories with you, then let them be candid, a little unsettling, maybe even difficult or hard to fathom, but never, dear God, boring.
The two photos I have posted here, one from that recent coastal trip and the other from about a year ago, are pretty much what I'm talking about. Don't get me wrong, shooting with my sister in the bright, beautiful sun of the Oregon coast was delightful, and I'm glad for that opportunity. But standing beneath the St. Johns Bridge as the fog was rolling in was something altogether different. Call it what you will: contemplative? introspective? moody? somber? Hell, you can call it a taxi if you want. And that's the point. One is the static (albeit lovely) image of the identifiable, the other carries the unremarkable stigma of the nameless. It's downright compelling. That's what I enjoy most about photography.
And that's what I came for.