The World of Strange Design. Let me tell you about it. But, first let me tell you that I borrowed the title from Rosanne Cash’s last album called “The River & The Thread.” The entire album is about her coming to understand where she’s from. And, what that means. And, accepting it as home. For me, it’s one of the best of albums of the year. It’s sort of country. How could it not be? After all, Rosanne is the daughter of the late, great Johnny. Cash. But, it’s also deep. Dense. Swampy. Rich. Full. Moody. Mysterious.
The opening verses of this particular song go like this.
Well you’re not from around here
You’re probably not our kind
It’s hot from March to Christmas
And other things you’ll find
Won’t fit your old ideas
Their line is shifting sands,
You walk across a ghostly bridge
To a crumbling promise land
That’s particularly striking for me. That’s what you hear a lot in New Orleans. Or, a version of it. “You’re not from here,” they say. But, but, but… I’ve been around this place since 1999 with the exception of a storm break. Not long enough. Would I be from here if I was born here? Nope. “Where’s your momma from,” they ask. Then, “where’s your maw-maw from?” They’d die if I said Russia. Actually, her village was on the Russian-Polish border. One day it was Russia. The next day… Poland. So, who knows. In New Orleans, it takes multi-general residency to be from here. My neighborhood is even worse. Mostly old New Orleans blue bloods. So, even though I feel like I’m from here, I’m not. They know it.
This picture and a rant.
I made this image in St. Louis Cemetery No 2. The scene was a little too hot for my taste so I messed with it in post production. A lot. No. I didn’t cut the heads off of two the sainted statues. I think one of the storms did that. I’ve long given up doing all this photo manipulation in Photoshop. It would take me days to do it using that software. Besides the term “photoshopping” is starting to mean something else. Something negative. I saw it used for a news story that was obviously sanitized by the spin masters. There were no pictures. Just words. So, “photoshopping” is now being used in place of lying or twisting or spinning. Ouch.
That’s still not my rant. My rant is worse. Way worse.
I’m sure most of you are well aware that nothing artistic is worth much on the internet. Not any more. Music is worth nothing. Photographs are worth nothing. Painting is worth nothing. Art, in general, is worth nothing.
There are few of us who at least try to respect each other’s work. We ask before we use it. If we reblog, we keep it within our community. We track back. We try to acknowledge another’s work or thinking. These days it seems like respect for each other’s work is about all we have.
If we put it out there on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or just about anything else it appears to be free for the taking. I’ve heard plenty of people say that if they “got it” from the internet it’s theirs and they can do what they want with it.
Think about that for a minute. I’ve got about 40 years invested in this. I’ve spent a lot of money on gear, learning, supplies, traveling to get to the picture and so on and on and on… Keep stealing my work and pretty soon I won’t be able to fund it. Or, I’ll just stop because there is no return. I’m a businessman as much as anything. My commercial-corporate-advertising-stock work pays the bills. Storyteller doesn’t.
It gets worse. It always does. When people read Storyteller, never comment and never “like” a picture but use either my photo philosophy or my style without ever acknowledging it, I have to wonder. Where the hell is their vision? Where is their creativity? How do they use their time?
Want an example?
Here’s one now.
The phrase, “Feels like to…” Or, “How it feels.” Or, “What it felt like to me…” Those are my thoughts. My writing. I’m trying to show you what it feels like to be in a certain place, at a certain time in a certain nano second. It’s about a sense of time. Or, place.
Oh sure, my thoughts aren’t original. An old friend once said that sometimes he photographs stuff just to show what it “feels like to” while we were careening around in a New York City taxi. So, we set about to photograph what it feels like to ride around in an NYC taxi. I think I made about three pictures. I’m sure he heard that some place else. But, they spun around in my head for years.
When a version of that shows up a day or two after I last wrote it, in some other social media, I have to wonder. Yes. I know the writer reads Storyteller. Never says anything — good or bad — about it. I guess, it’s a form of flattery. But, sheesh. Do you have to be so obvious? Spend some time with other photographers. From a lot of generations. Work every day at making pictures. Take the time to experiment. Figure out your own photo philosophy. If you keep borrowing so blatantly without some kind of attribution, I’ll just go away.