And, not a moment too soon, for many of us. All of us? A difficult year for humans, for the planet, and for the creatures of the natural world. Yet, in the midst of all this wrenching setback, I find myself grateful for so many things. Annie, most of all, and having dinner with her every night. Our sofa, where we gather as the day fades. A year’s respite from airplanes. Longest time for me to not be airborne in over 40 years. And many others things as well. Thankful for friends, family, Italian takeout, and a renewed and wonderful relationship with Sammy, our cat, who now climbs to the top of one of our chairs at pretty much precisely 5pm everyday and commands me to give her a rubdown and some ear scratching. Because, well, I’m home. And Sammy has another human to bend to her furry will.
And, thankful for the next day’s breath.
And, photography. Even though I didn’t really do much of it this year. Thankful for the community of photographers, and camera makers, and camera clubs and stores and the many ways we hung together this year. Memories of this year will be long, and will not fade anytime soon, as we lurch ahead in the calendar, as we must. The ruckus of this world of ours arrives on the doorstep of 2021, like a bunch of uninvited, unkempt, drunkenly obnoxious revelers who aren’t really getting along very well and annoyingly banging on the door to be let in. Given our state, 2021 might be better served to just keep the door locked. There will be welcome vaccines for COVID in the new year. Sadly, not ones inoculating us against mean-spirited behavior.
Memories and pixels go together, of course. Memories limned in light, gesture, oddity, raw anger, melancholy, and despair, commingled with joy, forgiveness and hope. Those beautifully saving graces which this year, at no predictable times, have burst the surface of our meditative pools of lockdown like a swimmer who’s been underwater too long and is overdue for that first, desperate, raucous intake of air. Such magnificence this year on the part of so many, as we were reminded of those who are essential. Medical personnel. Scientists. Truck drivers. Delivery people. The post office. People who make, ship, stock and offer food and the things we all need to live. People who reached out to the neediest of us, so deeply afflicted by isolation. Many, many people gave each other the best of themselves in this desperate year.
Photographers are resilient sorts, and we seek to express even when isolated. Wonderfully welcome and worthwhile photos were made by photographers all over the world in 2020, who, forced to look around their rooms, or out the window, saw things in new and deeply personal ways. It has been often said that to photograph is to question, to understand, to explain, to soothe, to jolt, to scream and to whisper, perhaps all at once.
It is also to remember. So, in this last blog of the year, I thought of this set of photos I made in March of this year, in Romania. I was still traveling, just prior to the jaws of COVID slamming shut. Romanian actor Octavian Ghety posed for me for a project. I wrote of him on Instagram:
Such a kindly man, with a face for the ages. He was so enjoyable to talk with, that, despite our language differences, we did well in conversation, settling on French as our common ground for discourse. Trust me, my rudimentary French is certainly painful to a French person’s ears, but he was so patient about it, I felt the language coming back a bit, from my school days. It was a good day in the field. I found this old factory room, with a window, and long lost records of personnel and activities, abandoned to the ravages of time. He sat for me here, and simply owned the camera. Quiet, simple pictures often speak the loudest.
The pictures speak to me of memory, and are very soothing, personally, in the spin cycle of a cataclysmic year. Past all the stormy headlines, and nattering doomsayers with microphones and agendas, endlessly poking at the same, tired hash of it all, there remains the magnificence of people, all people, everywhere. Quietude, dignity and strength. Perseverance. People all over the world were heroic in the simple act of greeting another day, even when those days seemed endless and the world around was screaming at us nonstop, like a bad set of heavy metal songs, the kind the authorities blare endlessly over the walls via loudspeakers in a hostage situation, just to drive the bad guys crazy.
Here’s to making more pictures, and memories in ’21. Hope is the reason to keep slinging the camera.
Signing off for the year. Best wishes for health, safety and happiness to all. More, as they say, tk……