Gardens and parks are idealized places. Visiting them can be like going back to the Garden of Eden, a place of innocence. Many people have a sense of holiness about the place. They stay on the paths, walk slowly, observe respectfully, and keep their voices low. But not everyone.
This series represents three visits to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania in 2016. The first visit was as a participant of a Brandywine Photo Collective workshop in which photographer Robin Davis led seven of us in “Creating Your Photographic Series.”
The night before the first visit, knowing we would be photographing in a garden environment, that we would be inside a conservatory because rain was forecast, I started to plan.
Now planning is something I avoid whenever possible. To calm myself and set the mood, I put on some appropriate music: Jardim Abandonado by two classical guitar playing brothers, Sergio & Odair Assad. One sign that this was appropriate music was that the photos used in the album art are photos by French photographer Eugene Atget. It made me think of my own abandoned gardens, of photo projects I’d started and then abandoned, of all my black-and-white negatives and contact sheets carefully preserved and ignored.
I decided to shoot in color, but convert the photos to black and white. I decided to crop most of my images to a square format and tone them all similarly. My hope was to make photos in the style of my earliest visual heroes, Frederico Fellini and Henri Cartier-Bresson, an Italian and a Frenchman working in the 1950s and 1960s. They shot wonderful movies and photos in black and white, images of people in action, often with a sense of humor or the absurd, but lightly done, with a sense of loving grace and strong composition. That’s what I did here with most of the photos.
Many of these photos were included in my solo exhibit in December, 2016 at the Washington Printmakers Gallery in DC.
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