Anthropomorphizing a LegacyFriday, July 17, 2020
|Rosa 'Abraham Darby' & Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowflake' 17 July 2020|
For as long as I can remember holding a camera in my hand for the first time with an Agfa Silette I bought at a Washington DC pawnshop, my interest in photography has always been the human face. I have often told people that when I see a lovely landscape I buy a postcard. I will not deny that I have indeed taken landscapes, photos of sewing machines for Vancouver Magazine and that my camera has drifted down from the faces of lovely women to places that these days are verboten.
In this long stay-at-home period of my life at age 78 where I wonder if I will be alive to travel when traveling is allowed I have lots of time to think and few opportunities to pick up my camera.
I am not in the least interested in documenting sunsets or sunrises, Vancouver art-deco buildings, totem poles, full moons and new moons, skylines during the day and skylines at night. I have no interest in going to Chinatown to photograph a fading ghetto or to record the horrors of the Dowtown Eastside. I don’t want to shoot tall buildings with wide angle lenses or do anything more than snapping my cats Niño and Niña with my Galaxy 5.
And I will not waste my time with selfies.
What I want to do is to photograph faces. But this now is almost impossible. My two granddaughters, almost eager to pose for me I their youth, avoid me and even warn me not to take pictures on the few times they have come for a visit.
And so I scan the plants of our garden. I don’t tell all those people who have discovered the close focusing capabilities of their digital cameras or phones who are busy taking close-ups of roses and other flowers in neighbourhood gardens. I would place these people in a darkened room with uncomfortable chairs and force them to look at hundreds of these pictures. Melatonin would be whiffed in the air.
There is no way of taking a photograph of a rose that you have not grown or know with a digital camera or phone and make it look different.
What is the key?
The answer may seem crazy. Just note the title of this blog. And part of this is that our roses talk to me. They beckon even though they sacrifice being snipped. “Scan me now, I am at my best,” they whisper as I make the rounds of our small Kits garden.
I started scanning my roses (they were only mine then, now they are ours) in 2001. The purpose was to accurately record what they looked like at 100% life magnification and as accurate in colour as I could muster. Even then, as I was younger, I believe that I might have made a killing selling these as inkjet prints to hotel chains. But I I was not interested then and much less now.
The idea of accuracy has now been modified by my scanning of roses with other plants and other plants without roses. I walk around the garden and I am quickly inspired.
I may now have something in the neighbourhood of over 1000 scans in very large files that represent a record of the plants we have had, died or survived in our two gardens and the one that our eldest daughter has in her almost one acre property in Lillooet.
What legacy do these scans (I call them scanographs and I am now a scanographer) have in the very near future of my returning to my maker? Are they worth preserving? Is it enough that I exposed to great pleasure in the exercise and that there is a relaxing comfort in removing dust imperfections with my 17 year-old Photoshop?
I find that my almost obsession to photograph women in my search of Eros is waning.
There is an erotic delight in scanning this Rosa ‘Abraham Darby’ and Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’ today that is completely guilt free. The image delights me even if it is for naught.
The secret, of my pleasure is that I am taking portraits of my plants. They are no less people than my Niño and Niña.