Retrospective: A Fall Project

St. Elmo General Store

St. Elmo General Store, September, 2001
5:45 a.m.

I regard this photo as one of my masterworks; it never loses its power for me. The selection and repetition of colors, repetition of shapes, use of parallel lines, metal textures, and the subtle message on the barber pole of “LOOK. FEEL.”

As I was driving home from class in Lincoln, Nebraska, last night at 11:30 p.m., I was thinking about the conversation that our Instructional Materials class had engaged just earlier: “What makes a good design? A good photograph? How do Zen principles enlighten a design or photograph?”

And I realized I had never taken the time to look back on more than twenty years of photography and say, which ones are strong? As my good friend Sam would say, which of these have a life?

So, considering the weight of doctoral work means I have no time to wander the West looking for photos this fall (which is painful, by the way; fall in the West is my very favorite time to shoot, as I feel a palpable energy in the cool breezes and chill mornings), I realize it’s an appropriate time to post images that have life for me.

Feel free to disagree with my choices, or comment freely. After all: If nothing else, art is discourse.

Happy viewing.

Alley Belle’s Cabin, Romley, Colorado

Annie Belle's Cabin, Romley

Annie Belle's Cabin, Romley

A bumpy drive south of St. Elmo, Colorado, is the Alley Belle Mine, one of a very few remaining vestiges of the town of Romley. There sits a miner’s cabin, abandoned, with only the brief summer flowers and morning light to warm its decaying existence, and one late June morning at 7 a.m., I joined those companions in the cabin, celebrating the past and present through this photo.

St. Elmo General Store, Colorado

St. Elmo General Store

St. Elmo General Store

I’ve written and lectured over the years about how a photographer must go back. New elements appear over time, along with new vision and new philosophy; as a place changes, so too does the photographer and his or her visual expression of the essence of a place. St. Elmo is a good example of this process in my own photographic life: as I posted yesterday, I’ve been visiting this place for more than 35 years, and as such, small changes become larger in my eyes, and opportunities for new photos present themselves as fleeting moments that will evaporate quickly. The barber pole in this photo, and thus the image itself, has been my mantra: Look. Feel.