After 35 years of doing this, how do you sort out a portfolio? It’s beyond my ken, really. Especially after having spent most of my time pursuing a generalist bent, to say my work is all over the lot would be kind. A more accurate description might be that my physical files, not to mention the file cabinet of my head, are a bit like a nightmare basement straight out of Hoarders.
Throw into the mix that a lot of stuff is gone, languishing now in the bottom of some long ago agent’s filing cabinets, or physically dispersed over to a defunct European picture agency whose original founder might now be running a pizza parlor near the Spanish Steps. It’s a nightmare, like building an intricate model airplane without a blueprint or even rudimentary directions. Young photogs, be aware. Be careful with your imagery. I was not, overmuch. Moved too fast, and grew up a bit with a newspaper mentality–shoot it and move on. Yesterday’s paper, yesterday’s news. As Simon and Garfunkel counseled a long time ago, quite melodically, preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.
Then top that off with my occasional, furious foray into the files to whimsically pursue and recover one of my “most favorite pictures.” This type of an adventure is usually prompted by an obscure thought, or a small news piece in the Times, or some such thing that rings a distant bell in my head, leading me to scour through stacks of slide pages, now cracked and stiff with age, holding remarkably fresh looking Kodachromes of a largely forgotten event that, certainly in my office, only I still attach any importance to.
But, at the studio, everybody there is amazingly tolerant of these diversions. Even the young guys, who, as I tell them yet again about cranking the manual focus ring on a 1200mm lens as the first space shuttle ever launched dropped like a rock out of the sky towards Edwards AFB, restrain from rolling their eyes. I imagine they halfway suspect that in the middle of one of these tall tales from the field I’ll pull a plug of chaw out of my lower lip, turn and spit tobacco juice on the floor of the studio, and use terms like “By cracky!” or, “We sure got tuckered!”
Actually, the fact that we have a new book is due to the forbearance, logic and wonderfully respectful attitude all the gang at my studio brings to bear every day. We needed a new book, something fresh. I literally threw up my hands. Lynn, Lynda, Cali, Drew and Jon all pitched in to pull over 600 images from the files, and turn them over to Sean Stone and his wonderful colleagues at Wonderful Machine. Many are digital files, shot within the last couple years or so, spiced (hopefully) with vintage stuff. Sean and team sorted, collated, edited, and synchronized the look and feel of each of the spreads in the book. Online, PhotoShelter worked with us to present our new website in smooth and simple fashion, reflecting the new picture choices for the portfolio.
I am continuing to mine the archive, though, as a wonderful thing looms for us at the studio. The prestigious Monroe Gallery, which I’ve been fortunate enough to be represented by for many years, is giving me my first one man show, next October. One of the “hooks” for the show might be that my archive is represented by the use of lots of mediums, from the world’s only Giant Polaroid….
To an 8×10 film camera for Michelle Pfeiffer…
To a Iphone snap that went viral…..
It’s been a long, strange and wonderful trip….more tk.
* A bunch of folks have asked us about the book design and the printing of our recent new portfolio. Scott Mullenberg of http://www.mullenbergdesigns.com/ did the physical book, and did a great job. The prints were beautiful, done by Mark at http://www.stillrivereditions.com/ He is our go to printer when we are overloaded and on the road. Epson papers and ink as always…..