Life on the Road and My Favorite Place

When I was a little girl my mom used to take my sister and I to Walgreens to get an ice cream sundae.  Back then, like other drug stores and five and dimes, you could get a bite to eat at the counter.  I had a game that I’d play every time we’d go.  I’d sit on the stool and spin myself around. I would assign exotic destinations to various landing spots that the stool would stop spinning – and determine that those were the places that I would travel to in my life.  I somehow knew back then that “the road” would become a huge part of my life.

Over the years people have asked me “Where is your favorite place that you’ve ever been?”. To be honest, I hated that question because I never had an answer.  There were too many places, all different in their own way that attracted me to them.Iom peel boat And then about 10 years ago I had an assignment for Islands Magazine to cover the Isle of Man.

The island pulled me in from the start. I felt a strange sense of belonging, a connection that I couldn’t explain.  The air was cool and pure with a constant wind that blew across the island from one sea to the other.  It’s a small island located in the Irish Sea somewhere between Ireland and Scotland.  An island that’s reminiscent of Ireland 50 years ago –port erin an island where time seems to have stopped.

Because the island is small, I didn’t feel the usual rapid pace that I have felt on previous assignments where I was given too much to cover and too little time.  I could linger and catch the moods of the island and the vibe of the people.  It was a magical place with open, cinematic vistas of aiom scenic patchwork of every shade of green you can imagine, stretching from the barren upland’s to the blue of the sea.  The sea was always present.

There were secret glens with waterfallwaterfalls and I thought that fairies must surely live there, somewhere beneath the ferns.  The island was enchanting on every level.  One day I came upon a crowd of people in a field.  I asked someone what was going on and they replied that it was a turnip weeding contest.  How wonderful I thought, a contest to weed a field.  I spent the morning caught up in the event, taking a few images, but mostly just talking with peoplemen iom and storing those conversations in my head.

And then like every other time I’ve taken to the road – my journey came to an end and it was time for me to leave.  There’s a legend on the island that every time the Queen of England comes to the Isle of Man (the island is an independent nation), the great god Mananan covers the island in a mist, so that she won’t find her way there and take the isle back.  The night before I left, a dense fog enveloped the isle and I thought the gods didn’t want me to leave – and I didn’t want to leave.  But the fog lifted and it was my time to go, but I knew that I finally had an answer to the question “Where is your favorite place you’ve been?”


Robert Frank, “The Americans” and The Road

I went to see Robert Frank’s “The Americans” this past week at the Met in New York City. I have always been a fan of Frank, not so much for his fashion photography but his photographic observations of “us”robertfrank_10.T – us Americans, our culture at that time in our history.  He was an observer of “all” people not just the beautiful ones captured on the pages of Harper’s Bazaar, and he captured those observations for generations to come.

As I took my time looking at the prints and contact sheets displayed, I was able to get a glimpse of how he shot – what his camera lingered on and where he went from there.  I could see his thought process in how he made his selections, looking at the frames circled with his red grease pencil. I read his letters to his colleague Walker Evans, another favorite of mine and I got a much better sense of him as a person and photographer.  I watched an early video that he filmed and was amazed by how he pushed his own photographic boundaries into another medium.  The exhibition provided a wealth of insight and information on Frank, his project “The Americans” and a time in our country’s history – and I was captivated.

His images linger in my head and remind me of my beginnings in photography and “why” I became a photographer.  Like Frank, I’m an observer of all people, of cultures and use my camera as a means to capture my observations and share them with others.  My passion is rooted in my own personal road trips; I have taken over the years with my camera. It has triggered in me the desire to explore, to embark on another journey with my camera and see where it takes me.

I’ve spent a career and a lifetime “on the road”, always the traveler, observing and capturing the daily lives of others – not the famous, but the common man.  Not the horrific, the outrageous, the exotic for those reasons  – but because they’re part of the world I live in.  My hope is that I the images I leave behind, will provide others a glimpse of that time, that space, those lives that I stumbled upon during a lifetime spent on the road.

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