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Depth of Field
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narrative. Two things come to mind when I'm asked to describe my background in photography:

The first and foremost is my vision. It is terrible. Without corrective lenses, it is impossible for me to see any detail further than a few inches. The entire world is an amazing blur of color and shape that remains totally anonymous in almost all of its features. The fact that a camera allows me to express this view of the world is paramount.

The second is a combination of sensual treats, if you will — the sliding of a viewing screen, the whirl of a fan, the click and clack of a slide projector advancing through its carousel of wonderment. Giant pictures up on a wall or screen in semi-darkness.

Photography keeps me in constant motion: photographing, editing and showing my images. Picking up the camera daily to make images to present a view of the world as I see it. It's a cliché, but also the truth. The sun rising when I'm riding my bike in the morning, an odd salt shaker at lunch, a dim abode in which friends revel in celebration — all everyday instances of time and space, broken down into shape and color.

I started photographing when I was a child, first in make-believe with a toy camera, then slowly through the big black and chrome cameras of the adults around me. By the time I was in high school, I was making images of my friends skateboarding and hanging out, typical stuff. Then the focus slowly shifted from those in the foreground to what was behind them: the numbness of suburbia and the beauty and calmness of the countryside that surrounds it. The desire to see more slowly drew me into New York City with my camera in tow. The world suddenly opened up into an enormous panorama of the most interesting imagery I would ever see.

The urban landscape is a staple now in my imagery. The subject tends to be more the background elements than ever before. The buildings, smokestacks, bridges, all slowly falling out of focus into a realm where the scene before me becomes truly mine for all to see.

Recently, the idea of photographing people has become interesting once again. Always somewhat of a challenge, capturing the essence of a person — through a portrait or an image of them in action — relates back to my theories of capturing a moment of my own in time and space.

I was asked to photograph the band Unwound for Neumu, where I am the editor of the "Depth of Field" photography gallery. How do you photograph a band you've hardly heard? I only knew their music from a cover version of a song, "Plight," they contributed to a D. Boon tribute record, Our Band Could Be Your Life..

I drove from Portland to Olympia with Neumu contributing editor Jenny Tatone one recent, overcast Saturday. During the trip we listened to the group's latest album, Leaves Turn Inside You, and I began to get a feel for their sound. At first the music and the rural setting didn't fit — but after a while they did.

The photo session actually was pretty smooth. Both Olympia and Unwound's MagRecOne house were quite photogenic. Unwound singer/lyricist/guitarist Justin Trosper is very easygoing; the interview was casual and in the outdoors, among the wonderful rolling hills outside Olympia. The band was slightly standoffish at first, but after introductions they eased up right quick and began to rehearse. Everyone felt a bit weird having their portraits taken, but it all felt good in the long run.

(October 2001)

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