I don’t remember where I first heard this expression but I’ve known it for years and think it can be a good philosophy.
As you know, I’ve been shooting portraits for several years now. When people ask how long I’ve been shooting kids I always reply, “Hmm, two or three years.”
But I realize now that isn’t accurate. I’ve been shooting kids for five or six years, almost double what it feels like in my mind. I’m not sure what happened, where the time went, but it surely went and I can’t get it back not even with Richard Branson’s money.
When I make portraits I’m not thinking about electronics. I don’t think about blogs, sites, web galleries, iPad, laptops or slideshows. Nope, not at all. When I make portraits I think of two things, books and prints. And I’ll go one step further. When I think about prints, I don’t think about wallet size. I think about large prints for the wall.
That is my goal, to get something good enough to not only make the wall, but LAST over a period of time, preferable years. After all, I’m there, not only as a photographer, but really as an on loan anthropologist/historian. We live in the age of parents documenting with the cell phone, and if you know anything about history, archiving, databases, etc, you know that next to NOTHING of this documentation will exist in the future. This is where Uncle Dan comes in.
So what you are looking at is my goal played out on the walls of a California home. There it is, as wide as a 35mm lens at about 15 feet away. An entire wall of the family history played out in large prints. THIS is what I’m talking about. THIS is what my dream is, my goal, my idea of how people should use me. And yes, I said “use.” That is the idea.
And to continue the “use” theme, I thought I’d use myself for some scale. I’m about six feet tall, so this wall is..well, larger than me.
The images are from the first shoot we ever did, all the way through our most recent shoot. Editing was tricky but fun, and could have gone in a variety of directions. I ultimately went with a combo of color, black and white, timelines, numbers of each person, etc. My first two prints were 11×14 and 17×22, but we realized quickly the wall was too big.
So, I went back to the Milnor Pictures Underground Command Center Complex, in the Mojave near Barstow, and churned out a new set of images, this time in the 24×36 to 22×22 range. Then, the small prints became the 17×22 size, which I initially thought would be the big prints. Are you with me on this? Okay good, let’s proceed.
So suddenly the wall began to take shape. A trim here, a reprint there. Oh, and before all this began, let’s give credit where credit is due…the wall. The idea of doing the wall. The preparation of the wall, etc. Mom gets the credit. Mom prepped the wall. Mom came up with the idea. The wall of prints was probably the both of us, but it takes two to tango. So, it was the perfect match. And you will notice there are no frames. Yes, we noticed that too. Planned it that way actually. Lo-fi. It’s the new cool. You should get on this bandwagon. Oh..wait…it passed….it isn’t cool anymore. Sorry. Wait, it’s coming back…okay, it’s cool again. Go, go, go, go!
I wish more people would do this. And just so you know, independent verification of the brilliance of this wall was provided by the pizza delivery guy. Based on the story I was told, let’s just say he liked it.
I really mean it. This is my goal with all of my portrait shoots. Over a five year period we’re looking at about fifteen prints. At some point before I die, IF and that is a big IF I stay in California I’ll build a new office. The entire damn space will be covered with prints, and ALL MINE. Forget everyone else, I’m building a shrine to me and only me. Large prints, really large prints and obscenely large obnoxious prints. And maybe I’ll charge admission to get in, or make you sign a nondisclosure statement.
Over the past few weeks I’ve realized I need to change some things if I’m going to continue to work with kids. I feel I’ve been pulled in a direction I’m no longer happy with. So, I’ve begun to make a plan, and this plan involves prints like these, and really nothing else. It’s all or nothing, or in other words, choosing to be a grizzly. The other bears are cool, and my five-year-old nephew is running around my office at this very moment with is new black bear stuffed animal which he oddly named “Brian,” and sure, it’s a cool stuffed animal. BUT IT AIN’T A GRIZZLY.
I’m hoping to utilize this wall, these photos, to show the rest of my families the power of the print.