As we embark into 2024 I look back on a creative photographic career spanning 26 years of serious fine art photography. In 1998 I found myself roaming the back roads of southeastern North Dakota, an explorer looking for purpose. In my wandering I discovered silent beauty in abandoned farms, frozen in time yet gradual in their decay. I couldn’t help but wonder what these places looked like when the wood was new and the paint was still wet. Trimmed fields and the sounds of families living and working on the land to build themselves a better and more independent life. With Minolta X-370 and a 50mm lens, I began to capture these places less like an artist and more like and archeologist. It was a documentation process as I was in awe of the places I found, having just moved from South St.Louis, Missouri.
North Dakota was a visual culture shock for me. With its minimal trees and open spaces, it was like no place I had lived before. Groups of trees in the open country usually only concealed a river, a house, or provided a windbreak for farmers’ fields. The rest of the areas you could literally see for miles, and the eastern side of North Dakota is among the flattest in the state. I used to joke that the wind began in the middle of Montana, where the Rocky Mountains end and blows all the way to the Minnesota/North Dakota border with no stopping. Living in North Dakota from 1998 to 2004 was an experience I treasured for its unique opportunity to explore the landscape, the backroads, and the wonderful people I met along the way.
Like I mentioned my approach to capturing the back roads in my mind was more like a photojournalist, or what a photojournalist might do as I was not one. In my effort to photograph these places I tried to add a little creativity on the black & white film. The result of that first discovery of abandoned places was the photograph “Window to the Past.” The image was truly emblematic to me of looking through a window, with no glass, into a past that was fading from its war with the elements. Each place I found that one was as much an exploration as it was a walk through history. Imagine walking through the days of the book “The Grapes of Wrath.”
My first creative photograph is really the best place to begin for what I have coming in 2024. In the coming days, weeks, and months I am going to tell the stories of my travels there and the images I have collected along the way. The only way we can truly appreciated the ‘here and now’ is to live in that moment, to recognize it and savor it, because it will never be the same. I knew I would someday return back to Missouri so I tried to take every chance I could to explore this unique state filled with vistas and textures that any photographer would be blessed for a chance to capture. In those days I was blessed.
In the coming year I will be offering Limited & Open Prints, announcing upcoming art exhibits, and am working on publishing photo zines. I invite you to come along by Signing Up for notifications when I make new posts and announcing upcoming events, like an art show on the schedule for April. Also, I will be giving away FREE prints in the coming weeks and months, and will be drawing names from my Subscriber list so don’t miss out. You can Subscribe to my upcoming posts on my website in the right column.