Saturday, October 04, 2014
shooting the naked sisters
Great short story title, isn't it? It calls out for a Jennifer Egan. Or someone of her ilk.
Because that is not my forte, I decided to take the title in an entirely different direction -- in hopes of finding one of my talents.
The area around Bend is one of the most scenic parts of the world. High Desert. Forests. Cinder cones. Wide-open skies. And, of course, those mountains. Almost everywhere you look.
If you have been visiting Mexpatriate for very long, you know my forte is not landscape photography. I shoot outdoors. But my subject tends to be birds, wildlife, architecture, or archaeological sites. And some of my better work is inside buildings. Especially, museums.
There is a reason for that. For years, I have been very suspicious of the usual tourist shots. Sky. Building. Bridge. The type of shots that look as if they should be placed on post cards in souvenir shops.
I couldn't articulate my wariness until I read an essay by photographer Billie Mercer, over at Reservations for One. She mentioned that she tries to avoid the cliché shot in favor of something that captures the true spirit of what she is photographing.
Here's an example. A tourist would be happy with a full frontal shot of a church. Billie would find a detail or a shadow or a person to center her work -- something that would encompass the story she wants to convey to the viewer, and allows the viewer to complete the story.
October is a pivotal month for the high desert. Summer is quickly fleeing from Jack Frost's attributes. The new snow has not yet started. As a result, the surrounding mountains are stripped of most of their ermine mantle.
In fact, they look almost naked. Especially, the Three Sisters. Faith. Hope. Charity. Without or without snow, they are a prominent part of the local horizon.
I drove up to eponymous Sisters, Oregon, near the base of the Cascades, to see if there was some way to tell the story of these bare peaks while trying to avoid the cliché cul-de-sac. It was tough. And I am not certain I succeeded.
Any time a fence line is used as a border to underline purple mountain majesties, I can hear the claxon warning that I am trying to tell my viewers what they must see and think. Leaving about as much mystery as the photograph for January on a typical kitchen calendar.
Having shot them, I leave the rest for you the viewer -- to complete the story the photograph tells. After all, art is never finished until a viewer adds the tale. I forget which artist said that. Maybe it was Marcel Duchamp.
Instead of leaving you with just one photograph, though, I thought I would add a second. Same theme; just a variation.
After all, they shoot horses, don't they?