Thursday, January 8, 2009
My father has taken photographs ever since he was a teenager. He's a serious hobbyist, an amateur in the most positive sense of the word. I don't know if it's true or not, but a story I tell about my dad is that he used to say, "Don't try to make money at something you love; you'll ruin it." There are many things he's done all his life and is highly skilled at -- building model airplanes and replicas of 19th century firearms, carpentry and woodworking, wine and beer making -- but never did professionally. Instead he spent his whole working life at a job that I'm pretty sure he didn't much enjoy.
Recently, he had hundreds, maybe thousands, of old slides converted into digital files. (For years, I think he took only slides, in the late 50s/early 60s when people were buying expensive projectors and screens and having friends over to look at their vacation photos. The reason people loved slides is that photographs come to life when projected with light. Computers do the same thing, now.) The history contained in the images astounds me, but, besides that, many of the photos are evocative and beautiful, funny, full of emotion. I've been poring over them and choosing my favorites, and I thought I'd share a few here. (Click to see them full size.)
I always knew he was talented, but our aesthetic sensibilities were so different when I was young (he's a formalist, loves following the rules, whereas I never met a rule I didn't want to break) that I didn't really appreciate how good he was. Or I should say, I always knew how good he was but never thought of him as an artist until I saw these photos now with more mature eyes.