What I learned from 52 Photographs in 2004
|2004 seemed to be the year of the
portrait. For once I seemed pretty much to know what I wanted to shoot.
It's also the year I started photographing a lot less, eschewing it for
writing, which I haven't done so much of since 2000. I wrote about
archaeology, science, and technology, and a lot about one of my early
loves, moviemaking. This sapped a lot of time from photos, but it didn't
matter so much, since it seemed that my photography was getting better. I
had a lot of planned shots where everything had to be a particular way and
there was a lot more preparation on the front end. Previously, my belief
had been "figure out how to put the light in the studio, tape it to the
floor, and just crank people through the door." Which turned out to be
creatively unsatisfying, I found I wanted more control, and, vainly, more
2004 was the year of big thefts, one of my old photos of Darenzia and Charles was stolen with incredible regularity, literally hundreds of times. I found it appearing in contests, on t-shirts, on notebooks, and on web pages. Seldom attributed to me, mostly un-attributed, but very often credited to someone else. Which I found infuriating at first, and then wearisome after I got tired of complaining and fighting. Lots of my other images were getting plucked off of the Internet and used elsewhere too. I started putting watermarks on my shots, which I guess I should have been doing all along.
I also got my very own stalker in 2004, an evil experience, which sadly made an impact on the way I react to fan mail.
2004 was marked in the very beginning by the death of my cat Thunderbelly who after many long years of love and evil, succumbed to acute renal failure in January. This made me rethink of of the Plug's 10 Commandments. The commandment should be "take plenty of photos of thy dog and thy cat -- just make sure they're good." After his leaving this world for the mouse-filled Valhalla of what-may-come, I was comforted to discover that nearly every roll of film I'd taken in the past ten years had at least one photo of him on it, sleeping in the laundry, in the fridge, playing with a string ... it was nice to be able to look through those.
My friends The Dresden Dolls and wonderful Nicki Jaine both got famous in 2004, helped along in whatever small part by my photos. It made me happy to start seeing my images of them pop up in magazines and newspapers around the world. It's the satisfying feeling of watching something beautiful grow and then seeing others appreciate it.
In 2004 also, my good friend and Time Magazine photographer Sal DiMarco passed away, making me realize how important it is to capture the times you have with your friends. Having the names and phone numbers of dead people in your palm pilot really lets you know that you're getting old.
Lots of good political photos in 2004, it being an election year. There was great access to the Republican National Convention, thanks to Silicone Alley Radio hiring me, and some good shots of John Kerry. I like being inside the political machine and watching the gears turn.
I finally put together my own Photo Album which has been a lovely thing, made up of a couple hundred 4x6 prints done without special attention at the local 1 hour lab, I thought it strange that every non-photographer I know has a book of snapshots lying around and I didn't.