Much further in.

Sometimes, it’s worth the time to look inside. Of anything.

I’ve been looking inside myself since mid-lockdown. We have no need to go there today. Looking inside of things that may be near and dear to its is another matter entirely.

For me, that really is only three things. Photography, art, and music.

For sure, family and friends matter as much or more as those external cares. They are for another day.

Photography and music are in about the same place. Earning a living is harder than ever because of disruption and democracy. Just look at Bandcamp or Instagram. There are so many people who want to enter some kind of creative business that they have diluted the production pool to the point that it takes a curator to find anything worth listening to, or viewing.

It’s worthwhile to say that there may be some gems lurking in pile of music and photographs but finding them isn’t easy. It’s also true that everybody deserves a chance. It’s even truer that everybody deserves to be paid properly.

That’s the catch.

Newbees have no idea what their work is worth so they give it away for pennies. WordPress even recommends a site where all the pictures are free. Modify the picture and you can lay your copyright on it.

Huh?

Musicians have always been poorly paid until they reach the higher levels. Even then there is a fight over percentages.

I wish I had some idea of what to do. The genie is out of the bottle as they say. It isn’t going back. Some of my friends have turned their careers into something else. One is trying to make pure art. Another is sort of becoming a photojournalist in Mexico. He has one particular story in mind.

That’s all good. They’ll probably grow. But, then what? Is the work they are making a sort of placeholder for something else?

That’s what I feel like I’m doing. Projects and Storyteller aside, I have no idea of my REAL way forward. Or, if there isn’t even one.

I make a good living doing my musical thing. I haven’t seen much for it in the last year. For sure, that’s a pandemic thing. But, nobody knows when it will start again. Sheesh. Blue Note is offering 20% discounts on music that has barely been heard yet. They have to make some return on their investment.

Where do I go from here and now?

I was thinking about a grocery store. People need to eat. Right? I have no idea how to run a grocery story. That shouldn’t stop me. After all the people who decimated my industries didn’t know what they were doing.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Follow all the rest and don’t get complacent. Enjoy all the things you love. Everyday.

That wasn’t a rant. Dammit. That was a state of my life as it relates to my work. I truly have no idea what’s next.

I do know that I’m very tired and bored of making pictures like these.

Oh sure, they document the seasons and nature in Southeastern Louisiana.

Scroll through my archives for the last ten years. The pictures repeat themselves. Not once or twice, but for every season that I’ve been back. Forty seasons.

Yes. I documented the culture. I photographed every second line during my first six years here. I photographed every Indian event I could find. Don’t get me started on Mardi Gras.

A photographer whose work I am very fond of, photographs long projects. They are usually three of four years of production. He was asked how he knows a project is finished.

When I start repeating myself was his response.

I’ve been repeating myself for years. Even the cultural pictures are blurred to me. All I see are the changing colors.

I’ve been putting off photographing my project. I have a hard time understanding why I am doing it. For myself isn’t an answer. What could it bring to the world is really what matters?

Maybe I should take my own advice. My buddy in Mexico wrote me a long email about his project. He was talking about magazine pieces, books, gallery and museum shows, grants and on and on.

No worries. He’s capable of making the pictures.

My answer was short and to the point. “Forget all of that. Just make the pictures.”

Good advice. Maybe I should take it.


New birth.
Even the little bits.

I believe that by being pain free for the past week or so is resulting in much better seeing. I think my consumption of necessary pain meds created a sort of brain fog.

That’s not to say I was walking around loaded out of my mind. I wasn’t. I didn’t. And, I don’t.

But, there was a sort of fog covering the inputs to my seeing.

It reminded me of my drinking days, almost 29 years ago. I thought that I was making good pictures when mostly I was making rubbish.

It took a few months, but once I gave up demon rum I started making better pictures.

Same thing now.

The difference is that pain meds got me through the day. Drinking didn’t. It hurt my day and me.

Anyway.

I saw these pictures walking the all seeing dog. All of them. Today, in lieu of walking far, she started exploring. Everything. Everyplace. Even though she’d smelled these places a million times in the past.

It worked out for both of us. She had a nice morning. I had made these pictures. All of them. Today.

Then, I went to my appointment with my pain management doctor. We are both happy that the procedure of two weeks ago worked so well.

Between the time of the procedure and now, I did a lot of research about healing. The body always heals itself. It just may take a lot of time.

My doc’s and my hope is that the epidurals will bring down the inflammation allowing the two points in the spinal nerve to heal. If that’s the case, I may not need further treatment for my particular issues.

I’m hopeful because the best way for me to make pictures is to walk. I haven’t been able to really do that for a long time.

Now I can.

Writing the other column was hell.

No matter what I did, boxes kept popping up. When I tried to edit one word I would lose and entire paragraph.

For a while I thought I understood this system. Unfortunately, WordPress wouldn’t leave it alone.

I noticed it when the three templates I use were saved. That was good. Why did I need to search for “Image, column and paragraph” every time I logged on?

I never had to deal with these boxes in the past. Now I do. Not only is this destroying my writing, but it’s wasting a huge amount of time.

The block system is supposed to save time. It sort of did. Once again, WordPress had to do something because it’s likely their coders don’t have enough to do. I wish that they’d stop.

Sorry that the technical side became sort of rant. No matter, these are straight photographs. No real manipulation. Just pure documentation.

Done.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know the rest. Enjoy all the rebirth.


The power of purple.

How it began. I talked to a friend of mine who suggested that I make some changes in how I look at my world. His thinking is solid. I fear that I’ve already worked through the process, at least as far as Storyteller goes.

He did offer me another idea. In order to do that I guess that I’m going to have to leave my compound and start looking around. A lot of people seem to be moving about in order to make pictures. Or, do anything. Like travel.

I’m not sure what my fear of doing that is about because I really don’t need to be close to very many people. That should keep me safe. After all, we run errands, go grocery shopping and the like.

We mask up. We use sanitizer and wash our hands when we return to our home.

And, yet.

I suppose it comes from one underlying condition. CLL. It’s a kind of Leukemia that doesn’t do much. It won’t kill me. It might not even make me ill. But, I produce too many white blood cells and not enough red platelets.

It’s the later that could kill me if I caught the virus. Bottom line, my body can’t defend itself from something like CoVid-19. Or, if it could it would be a big fight.

So. I sit. I want to go out and make pictures away from my neighborhood but I have some fears.

Even though there is some logic too them, they also seem to be a little irrational, especially if I’m 50 feet away from the next person.

What do y’all think?

Magenta. As I’ve said about 100 times, we don’t have a very cold autumn or winter. We do have a few days when the temperature might dip into the teens, but for the most part the weather is pleasant this time of year.

Right now, the temperature is in the low 60s. The windows are open. Cool fresh air is cooling the house.

That’s the long way of saying that flowers are still blooming.

And, that’s what I saw. New blooms. New Camellia blooms.

I haven’t made a detailed, macro picture in a long while so that’s what I did. I set out with intent.

Working in that way allowed me to not have to work much in post production. I developed and fine tuned the file and away I went. It is how you see it right this very minute.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after others. Be kind. Don’t follow leaders. Pay your parking meters. Enjoy every bowl of gumbo.


Some assembly required. That’s what was needed on this artistic experiment. In an effort to tie some life lesson to this picture, I think that most of our lives require some assembly.

I’m not just ruminating about the times when the cracks appear, but when the light shines in as well.

In fact, if you alternate light and shadow making their way through our cracks you could say that we are always in some stage of assembly.

That’s a good thing.

Without that constant work, I for one, would be bored.

Often, I marvel at folks with whom that I attended high school. They graduated from high school, they attended a local college, they married their high school sweetheart, worked for 40 years and are now retired.

I really have no idea what challenges they were presented in what amounts to 50 years, but they really seem settled. Or, did they settle?

I, on the other hand, never stayed in one place with the exception of now. I couldn’t stay with one women. I had a lot of adventures.

Which is the better life? For me it depends on which day you ask that question.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Enjoy every sandwich.

Experiments. A friend of mine seems to think that I have a collection of these. If I do it wasn’t intentional. I do them so infrequently that I’d have to search to really know.

They are time consuming to make and their really is no pattern.

This is a combination of two pictures. One, is obviously a stand of trees that has shed its leaves for winter.

The other is undetermined in this picture. It’s really a Camellia that I photographed very tightly. You may see that picture this week.

I layered and adjusted them. You see the result.

I’d ask you like it and if you like to see more, but I never do it until the pictures are ready.


Summer’s end.

Labor Day.

We honor our workers, no matter what their work may be. However, I fear that like our military, we could be described describe as “suckers” and “losers.” After all, why work for a living when you can scam for a living?

But, that’s not what I want to talk about today.

I’d rather talk about the change of seasons that Labor Day represents. For many people when the calendar turns from Monday to Tuesday, summer is over. For them. According to the calendar, summer ends on Tuesday, September 22. For nature.

We know that during the pandemic time numbers mean nothing. Nature does.

Down here in the Deep South — there, I said it — even though the sunlight is getting lower and more golden, the temperatures really won’t start cooling down until mid-October. I suppose that means our summer lasts a month longer than many of the rest of you.

That sounds great, right?

Trust me, as the calendar gets closer to the end of this month a kind anticipation sets in. Typically, I go outside and start looking for cooler, dryer weather. After a few days of hot, humid weather, I start to grumble. After a few more days, my grumbles turn nasty. No worries. I’m a great mutterer. Nobody hears my words but me.

Finally.

Ahhhhhh. Cooler air.

Our walks become dances because guess who likes cooler air too. The all-seeing cocker spaniel. We’ve been averaging about a mile a day. As it turns cooler we’ll work up to over three miles a day. She would probably try to walk three miles a day in the heat because she thinks that she’s pleasing me. I won’t let her. She’s 12 years old. You know the rest.

The picture.

It’s Sunday. We all need something pretty. Making and processing the picture was straight forward. I have been using a little trick in post production to make the image tack sharp and richer in color.

However, something is going on. My smart phone is back focusing. The back detail is sharper than the front detail. It should be the other way around. If I was using a camera I would know what to do. I suppose somewhere deep down in the online instructions there may be something to help me make an adjustment.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy your all of your barbecue.


As the season change.

Staying True.

I’m having a conversation with some Photoshelter folks about the so-called Photographers Bill of Rights via a comment section. Most of it concerns photojournalism. That’s where my career started. That’s where my heart lies.

I read the entire document. If I’m going to talk about it, I should read it. That’s only fair. I have questions.

Let’s start with this one.

Why is a portrait photographer — a good one — telling photojournalists how to be? This is the same guy who wants working photographers to seek permission before we photograph someone on the street or at an event like a protest.

I’d like to know if he’s ever worked on the streets. He has no idea what that world is like.

Then, there is the term that the authors want to use for us. “Lens Based Workers.”

Oh really?

They claim that they want to be all inclusive. They want the term to be about photographers, videographers, picture editors, and so on.

Great !

I like inclusiveness. But, why such a low end blue collar name? Most of us attended universities. We are, at the very least, professionals.

Some of us have more advanced degrees like a Master of Science, or even a doctorate. That would be me. Laskowitz, PhD. I don’t use my title very much because my work has nothing to do with my degree.

You don’t get to call me a “lens based worker.”

If you push me, I’m going to insist that you call me, Dr. Laskowitz. Nobody wants that. Least of all me.

At the end of the day, I see this as an attempt to quantify what most of us in my generation have known for most of our lives. I don’t want that. I bet the young men and women won’t either.

I learned how to be a photojournalist/photographer from those who came before me. My elders. I’m willing to be a young photographer’s elder. Mentor. Guru. All they have to do is ask.

Just don’t call me an old white colonialist.

You have no idea what I think. As little as I know about my heritage, I know this. It’s very likely that my grandfather was a kind of serf. He left because Communism was raising its ugly head. He wanted to be free. Just like me.

What kind of colonialist is that? White? I’m sorry (not sorry). I was born this way. Old? I hope the writers of the document get to be old. Like me.

I had to think about why I take offense at the so-called bill of rights. The headline says it all. What I do is my calling. My work is what I was given to do. If I’m any good at all, it’s because I worked hard, listened to my elders and took a few chances.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Enjoy your own photographs.


Sometimes in winter.

Bold color.

That’s what I promised you and that’s what you’ll get. Today is day three of our thirty day pause. Luckily, there is so much to do around this place, so much to read, so much to watch and so much organizing of my archives that I doubt anybody will get bored.

Eventually, we’ll have to sneak out for groceries.

We appear to be self sufficient, but are in a place to help our neighbors and community if they need it. That is so important. And, around here there are so many very elderly blue bloods that I’m sure someone will need something.

So.

For now, we are good. I hope all of you are too. It’s an eye opening thing to realize that I don’t have to explain the feelings or how we are responding because this is global. It’s universal. Hopefully, this will make us realize how alike we are, rather than to drive us further apart.

The picture. See it, photograph it. Unlike yesterday’s picture, this image needed nothing right out of the camera. I did add a little glow to it to make it a little more gauzy and romantic.

Oh yeah. I almost forgot. Music. We have so much music that we couldn’t listen to it all in a lifetime. But, I’m finding music that I’d forgotten about. Now, that’s really cool.


Made at night.

Night walk.

I like working at night. I made a career of it. This picture wasn’t made very late at night, because the dog who sees stuff wanted to go out at just around dusk. I don’t mind that, but with our broken streets and sidewalks I prefer not to walk in the dead of night. Even though our street Iights are fairly bright, they cast weird shadows and I could end up on my face.

That’s something I have to think about these days.

Another thing to think about is the coming CoVid-19. There are no patients at all in the state. That didn’t stop people from wearing masks and surgical gloves while they were grocery shopping. I suppose that might be a good idea since you can be asymptomatic and still be contagious.

Like everywhere else there was a run on toilet paper, sanitizer and soap. Ironic, because a week ago there was a million people in the streets celebrating Mardi Gras without any thought of a virus.

I really don’t understand the panic. The virus isn’t nearby and people are acting silly. However, if and when it does reach us, we’ll be in trouble. Our main industry is tourism.

According to what I’ve read, planes are mostly empty as are airports. Since we travel a good bit, I get emails from various airlines. American Airlines will not charge change or cancelation fees for tickets booked now through the end of March, with flights from now until January 2021.

Back to the city. Already two major conventions have cancelled. We are headed into festival season. If French Quarter Fest and Jazzfest should be forced to cancel that will just about kill the hotel and restaurant business. I can’t speak for hotels, but most restaurants run on paper thin margins. We could see the loss of quite a few smaller ones.

The say the waiting is the hardest part.

Yes, it is.

 

 


Something to enjoy.

So pretty. So pink.

Yesterday’s sunset was stellar. The sun was hidden by drifting clouds. And, then it wasn’t.

Just then.

Right then, the Japonica (Japanese Magnolia) trees were lighted by wonderful late afternoon golden light. I was lucky. Ten minutes either way and I wouldn’t have seen this little bit of prettiness. I wouldn’t have been able to make this picture.

I know.

You make your own luck. That’s really what photographer’s luck is about. I see that as getting out of your chair and going outside. Not this time. I was outside. I saw the Japonica trees. They were in total shade. I turned around to keep walking and the light broke through. I wasn’t ready and it didn’t last. Then, the light broke through again. I was ready.

Writing this reminded me of something one of my mentors used to say about travel photography. Rather than chasing around trying to find stuff to shoot, and going to tourist sites, he’d find an interesting coffee house or a ┬ábar with a view outside. He’d sit there and wait until something interesting passed by. Then, he’d make pictures.

Sounds strange, yes?

I think he’d have some idea of what he was doing, being both a Magnum and a National Geographic photographer.

Try it. You might make the pictures of your dreams.