Where Do You Start?

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For several years now, I’ve photographed my wife’s petite flower garden and, lately, a larger patch across from the house we call The Wild Area, because just about anything is welcome to take root there.

Stepping outside in slippers to say good morning to day lilies makes coffee taste better; I have no scientific evidence to support that claim, but on the other hand it is an indisputable fact that an occasional wheelbarrow, topped off with loam or compost or yard clippings, is a cheap ticket for the live performances she presents beginning in the spring.

What do I do with that largesse, hundreds and, eventually, thousands of pictures? Almost unknowingly, it seems, I’ve started a project, wielding a camera instead of a trowel and garden hose. Though our satisfactions are different, the idea is the same. Without them, this would simply be labor, something to fill time until we moved to something else.

It is extraordinary that whole populations have no projects for the future, none at all. It certainly is extraordinary, but it is certainly true. —Gertrude Stein



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There are many adjectives available to describe things that have been discarded and are now…in limbo. Besides hopeless, derelict, abandoned, neglected, rundown, eroding and decaying are also good fits for this truck and trailer I came upon recently. And for a photographer, there’s one more—opportunity.

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Buy, buy, says the sign in the shop window; Why, why, says the junk in the yard.
—Paul McCartney

Two Stories

Loadstar is a series of medium-duty trucks made by International Harvester from 1962 to 1979. It was primarily used for local delivery, including school buses and fire engines. It was also used extensively in the agricultural and construction industries.

via International Harvester Loadstar – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Since May, when my wife and I began driving frequently between Eugene and Oakland (OR), I’d had my eye on a small salvage yard just off the interstate midway between the two towns. There was little detail to be seen as we sped by, just a blur of old machinery, faded paint—and rust. Photographers, like moths to a flame, are drawn to these things. Yesterday I finally pulled off the freeway to see what sat behind a line of trees.

It was quickly apparent the collection of vehicles resting behind barbed wire and chain-link fencing has sat undisturbed for many years. At one time a gas station operated here—the faded building peeks out from behind large brown machinery. My interest was particularly piqued by a decrepit logging truck sitting in the weedy front row, and as I fetched my tripod from the trunk the rural postal carrier drove up to deliver the day’s mail. I was parked in front of the yard’s mail box, but she didn’t mind—a drink of water and stretch of legs was overdue. We chatted for a moment before she returned to her deliveries, and I realized I was staring at stories.

International Harvester and the logging industry have been influenced by various factors (poor management, changes in technology, and politics chief among them) to become what they are today, and here the effects on both are symbolized in a single frame. Whether it’s a happy ending or not, though, there’s nothing quite as satisfying to a photographer as passing along stories in a picture.