Turn and frayed.

T

he original image is ancient. I was playing around during a snowstorm in New Mexico. It was one of my picture a day images.

It’s shredded newspaper.

Everything came together at once. I need to make a picture and I had a new shredder that I wanted to test.

So, I shredded up a lot of newspaper and made a few pictures.

This was the result. Something huge for your wall. Maybe even wallpaper. Of course, your house would have to be able to pull it off. I’m not sure what kind of house that might be.

I’m thinking something very modern, all in white except for one wall. This wall. The one with shredded newspaper as wallpaper.

I make no claims about being an interior designer. My idea of covering walls is to fill them with framed art until there isn’t any more room and then rotate pictures in and out. The goal is to keep much of my work off the walls as possible.

After all, I know what my work looks like. I want to know what your work looks like.

I used to do some trading here. I thought we were doing a simple transaction. Mine for yours. Yours for mine. I didn’t work out that way. I’d send mine. I never received yours.

So, I stopped dong that. The experiment failed as most do here. I’m not sure why that happens. I have my theories, but I’ll leave that alone unless you really want to know and ask.

A

s I look at this picture a lot of memories come flooding back.

I’m one of those unfortunates who remembers everything.

Sometimes those ghosts are friendly. Often they are not.

Today is one of those days when they aren’t friendly. The biggest memory is why I moved to New Mexico in the first place.

We are a little over a month from the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina changing life as we knew it in New Orleans.

I’d wanted to retire in New Mexico. That would have been a good thing. It wasn’t good because of the way I went there.

I wasn’t done with New Orleans. I missed everything about it.

I remember my first Mardi Gras there. A parade was held in Old Town at the plaza. I got all excited.

What a come down it was. There was one cart that was supposed to be a float and a few people walking with it.

Luckily, it was held on the Saturday before Mardi Gras Day. I hopped on an airplane and got back to New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras Day.

It was glorious. Most of us hadn’t returned to the city yet. The city was in shambles. The parades were small. The Zulus had been scattered to the four corners of the country. Somebody paid for The Shaka Zulus to come from South Africa to replace them.

But, man did we celebrate. We were alive. As Mardi Gras Indians say, “Won’t bow down. Don’t know how.”

That’s what’s in my head today. I don’t know why. I suppose that it’s a kind of PTSD that comes and goes whenever it feels like it.

It’s one of those things that inspires me to say, “Control is overrated.”

It is.

You must be wondering about technique by now. There really isn’t any. Shred all the newspapers you have in the house and take picture of the remains.

That’s it.

A perfect picture of the newspaper industry as it stands today.


The Welder.
The Welder.

I don’t always made normal portraits.

In fact, I rarely do. You’ll never confuse me with a studio photographer who shoots nice family portraits. That’s okay. For all of us.

But, there is a great backstory here.

When I was working for The New River Newspapers in Virginia, the advertising staff came up with an idea to sell ad space. They created an entirely new product. It was designed like a magazine, but it fit in normal newspaper specs. It was basically, what some people call, a shopper. It also created a lot more work for me. I was already working something like 80 hours a week. Young newspaper staffers, looking to make their marks and move on to a bigger newspaper, do that. My executive editor sold the idea to me by saying I would get the cover and the middle spread to publish whatever pictures I wanted. And, I could control the layout and design of the crossover spread. Now, that was something. My pictures. My stories. My way.

Oh, and by the way, the new product was called, “The Picture.” The tagline was “Get The Picture.” A perfect advertising sales tool.

Well.

When the advertising stuff saw this picture they just about fell on their faces. This was not what they had in mind. They were thinking of nice, sweet pictures of flowers, puppy dogs and maybe toddlers. But, the executive editor stood by me. So, this was the first cover.

The picture. It was made in spring of 1980. Nikon F 2 and an 85mm lens. Tri-X film. That I know for sure. What I can’t remember is where I took the picture. I provided a lot of “evergreen art” for use by the layout editors when they needed to design a page and didn’t have a photograph and story combination. These were pictures that stood on their own and were not time or story based. So, I drove around a lot. Looking. By a lot of driving, I mean a lot. To the point that it was far more cost efficient to issue me a company credit card rather than to pay my mileage. The bosses allowed me to use it for every car-related thing. Oil changes, repairs, tune-ups. And, of course, gas. They even let me use it for personal trips because that was how they paid for wear and tear on my car. Of course, how many personal trips could I take working 80 hours a week? It was an okay deal. But, not great. Still, who pays my car insurance? And, all those miles killed any good trade in deal on a new car.

So. I was just out looking around. As usual.

This guy caught my eye because I saw the sparks from his welding torch. I stopped. We talked. And, he let me hang out and take pictures. Somewhere along the line, I asked him to flip-up his mask and look at the camera. This is the result.

The inside spread was more along the lines of a picture story. It showed process and scene. I don’t have any prints or tear sheets of that. Thank Hurricane Katrina. But, I do have the negatives. One of these days…