“The quest to photograph has become a substitute for the experience itself. . . By producing a camera, suddenly you are once removed from the scene.” — Sophie Grove, Monocle Magazine
Toward the end of my stay in Virginia, I made time to go over to Maryland and visit a student, Kathleen Amt, who I consider a friend and a kindred spirit.
Her home is filled with art — art she has made, that others have made, and art that appears all on its own in the form of rusted bits, old tools, brushes, papers, and more. "If there's anything here you want to shoot, feel free,” she said.
I hadn’t brought my photo equipment. A stricken look on her face. “What?!” Nope. Nothing. Hadn’t even thought about it. “You can use my camera if you want.” Nope. I didn’t even take out my cellphone.
Sometimes you just have to go commando, enjoying the person, the environment, the “stuff” without putting something to your face, something between you and her, you and her art, you and her cute little dog. You just want to enjoy without feeling you must document or record.
Not one pixel was put into play during my delightful time with her. But the overall feel, the impressions, the brain synapses that snapped, are unforgettable and will always remain — despite (and perhaps because there was) no photo equipment getting in the way. Here’s part of what I wrote to her afterward:
“I’m sitting on a couch with my eyes closed and click, I see your kitchen with the choppers on the wall. Click, and I see carved wooden birds. Click, and I see the painterly picture of Marty. Click, and I see a dull yellow lacquer box with Asian characters on it. Click, and I see Rusty walking on the unrolled paper in your studio. Click, and I see a binder page of matchbox labels. Click, and I see a small painted star in the center of a tambourine. Click, click, click, image after image of an incredible space and a wonderful artist.”
No camera gear? No matter. A delightful day.