5 | Family Matters: Debbie

I have become very fond of Debbie Richardson. 

Debbie  |  c. 1963  |  Photo by Charlie Richardson

Debbie  |  c. 1963  |  Photo by Charlie Richardson

About 15 years after this picture was made by her father, Debbie and I, by then friends, hiked to the top of Cowles Mountain east of San Diego. Looking to the west with our cameras, we saw suburban neighborhoods spreading back from the Pacific, fringed at the base of our mountain by new foundations and fresh framing. I said, "I'll bet you could make a historical photograph from up here." 

Brightly and instantly, Debbie replied: "Aren't all photographs historical photographs?"

 

4 | Family Matters: Alex

When Alex was four or five, we walked down the street to an estate sale at the big, blocklike two-story Craftsman house which loomed just a little higher on the property's raised grade. We admired the treasures left by the neighbor we had not known, an elderly music teacher. We were both impressed with the collection of sheet music and the open wooden cabinets in which they were filed horizontally.

Later, Alex reported at home: "When people are going to die, they put a FOR SALE sign in front of their house, and then they die."

 

Alex visits Dr. Fonseca  |  1985

Alex visits Dr. Fonseca  |  1985

3 | Family Matters: Emily

When Emily was about four years of age, I was distracted by something "important" while she was politely trying to engage me in some activity. Frustrated with my inattention, she gave me these indelible words: "Dad, when people talk to people, people answer people!"

Emily in the San Joaquin Valley  |  1978

Emily in the San Joaquin Valley  |  1978

2 | A Note from Ron Strange

Fifteen years later, just yesterday, I got a message from Ron Strange, who included his introduction to his new series of pictures from Yellowstone. With his kind permission I'll share it here; I used to teach him and now he teaches me:

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Why is ambiguity unsettling for some? How would they describe the feeling they get when confronted with ambiguity? When the word "ineffable" was first created, what was the experience that called for its creation? What is the origin of a numinous experience and why did they decide it needed a word?

If the haiku poet Basho had had a camera, what would his photos have looked like? When does minimal become nothing? Will it still move the viewer? Why is it that one person is moved and another not at all by the same image?

I was asked, "What were you thinking when you took that picture, it doesn't make sense?"

I was not thinking.

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Ron working, Cuyamaca Rancho  |  1986

Ron working, Cuyamaca Rancho  |  1986