A Sense of Place

Photographs 1971-1983: Central Pennsylvania and Upstate New York

One-man exhibit at The Blackstone Library Gallery, Branford, CT 2022

One-man exhibit at Five Points Gallery Annex, Torrington, CT 202

My experience with the act of photographing and, later, with the process of re-seeing what I’ve photographed, tells me I’m on a journey.

I would never compare myself to photographer Robert Frank (who could?), though I’m moved by this observation about Frank, from his wife, artist June Leaf: “He goes through life in this wonderful secret way, in the water, under the water. And things just come to him. So he’s like a fish, a beautiful fish in the dark, lighting up the water.”

Growing up in an educated family and straddling the sophistication of near-coastal Pennsylvania and the state’s provincial Appalachian mid-section, I’ve been a fish in and out of water—holding my position by swimming in deep, quiet pools of an ever-changing river, waiting for something to come my way.

Sometimes these moments appeared in front of my Rollieflex twin lens camera as I walked the hills and valleys of central Pennsylvania during the early and mid 1970s. In the faces of the people I encountered and the landscapes they inhabited, I felt a sense of wonder. Who is the is person? What can this interaction reveal? What will it look like as a photograph?

When I’ve shared my central Pennsylvania photos with people from other parts of the the world, I’ve sometimes been asked “Did you shoot these pictures in Texas? Was it a long time ago?” Maybe these questions are based on Pennsylvania  being a state with a high percentage of native-born residents, and the likelihood that old ways tend to persist in a mythical way there.

But, for me, these photographs are not about demographics. They are records of interactions between a curious young photographer in search of new experiences, and people who were just living their lives. I am grateful for each person who let me walk within feet of where they stood, waited patiently while I looked down into the ground glass of the camera and set the aperture, shutter speed and focus, and allowed me to click the nearly silent shutter of my Rollie and magically fix that moment in space-time.

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