You may have seen me hinting about a secret project recently. Yes, I’m feeling very secretive indeed! I’m not quite ready to launch the project. I’m still in that exciting/nervous early stage where I’m working through all my questions about the project; I'm questioning my assumptions and motivations and end goal. It’s gonna be really good, I promise.
What I can tell you is that lately I’ve been looking back to move forward. Normally I spend all my time looking ahead ahead ahead – I'm rarely in the present moment, and even less than that do I look at the past. I like to let the past stay the past, as a rule. It happened, you were there, now you’re here doing all the things you’re doing now. Isn’t time wonderful and strange?
Last fall when I was home in Tennessee for a visit, I spent an afternoon sorting through my old negatives. I need to ship them to California to properly scan all of them. As a first step, I rummaged through a bunch of stacks and brought home the ones that spoke to me. I had to pack light, since my next stop was New York for TSH Conference.
Now it’s February, and I’ve finally started digging into them. Looking into the past feels so precious and so intense: remembering who you used to be and how you used to feel and what you used to do. When I was seventeen I found my parents’ Olympus OM-2 film camera and taught myself how to use it. I trekked all over Cleveland and Charleston and Bradley County and Polk County and Hamilton County. Once I accidentally drove to South Carolina because I wanted to see where a road took me. When is the last time you did that, without a smartphone?
I shot friends and family and strangers and places and light and motion and hell I even tried to photograph sound. Everything was new and exciting — do you remember what that felt like? For life to feel brand new? I had no idea what freedom I had back then. I used what I made at my after-school job to buy film and fast food and gas. I bought my film at Walmart and got it developed at Walgreens.
Where is this all going? It doesn’t really have to go anywhere. When you get older it feels like everything is supposed to have a POINT and a PURPOSE and an END GOAL. And that’s definitely a good strategy for when you want to produce a lot of work. But I think there’s also tremendous value in just letting work be what it is, and not try to sell it or make it something that you’re trying to get recognition from. Just let the work be what it is, because you enjoyed making it.
As for the secret project, well, I’ll let you know when it’s ready to be shared. :)