It All Makes Sense Now

So my spelunking through my old negatives got me thinking about a lot of things. So here I’m going to tell an old story with a new image. If you don’t like stories, scroll down to the image.

So when I was 21, I moved to Washington DC to be an intern. It was my last semester of college and I was basically done and ready to start my life. We did our internships three days a week and went to class two days a week, at different locations. Often we had class in a place called the Brookings Institute, which is think tank in Washington, a pretty famous one.

The professor I had was an old Washington person and he knew a lot of people. He would invite people to come and speak to us on different topics. Now this was interesting of course. I’m not going to pretend that I was too cool to listen to those people. I’m not, but Brookings had one thing that got my attention more than anyone we ever heard speak. They had an amazing collection of photographs on their wall, in particular ones by a photographer I really like named Hiroshi Sugimoto.

I remember going to all of these different galleries and seeing these incredible seascapes. There was so much detail rendered in the water and on the beach. There was nothing going on, you weren’t looking at anything particularly beautiful but wow, you were transfixed by these pictures. Sugimoto also photographed different old style movie theaters and those pictures were amazing too. Emptied of people but with these amazing details rendered. It’s not an overstatement to say that I was obsessed with these photos.

One day I was sitting in class after, um, a particularly late evening. I was drinking coffee and listening to today’s expert, after I had gone by the Sugimotos on the way into the conference room and it just hit me — he used medium format film, probably medium format slides to shoot the picture I had seen on the wall. I spent the rest of the class thinking about medium format slide film and how detailed it was.

Anyway, pretty soon after that, I got my Lubitel and learned to take pictures with a twin lens reflex. I didn’t shoot any seascapes, but I did fall in love with the color and the detail rendering on your average medium format film. Now I have a Rolleicord and where did I take it the first chance I got? Yes. To photograph the ocean, of course.

So, here I am “reinterpreting” Sugimoto’s style. I love how the ocean water looks like glass in all of these. The things that happen when you let your mind wander, right?


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