Last weekend, among a raucous, happy night out, my friend Stephen – who worked with me on Open Up – said he had shown his copy of the book to his students. I was thrilled to hear they enjoyed it, but he mentioned some had asked what did “Open Up” mean? How did it relate to the photos? Stephen obviously couldn’t offer a detailed explanataion, but he knows me well enough to give them an accurate answer; well, at least, one of the answers. There’s many reasons why.
First of all, I was struggling with a title. I remember Stephen and I had discussed ‘Windows’ for a bit, which was fitting as I certainly do take lots of photos of windows (and doors). There’s definitely a subconscious message tied into that. I was then running all this by my wonderful, fabulous mother, from whom I received all these creative juices. She said call it ‘Open Up’ – it’ll catch the eye, and it really symbolises what the work enclosed does. Through the photos, I was opening up.
Everything in Open Up was taken on an iPhone between April 2013 and April 2016. This period of my life was the death of one chapter and the rebirth, or beginning, of another. A few months after my dad died, I finally made the switch from a flip phone to an iPhone (I know, at 22, I was way behind!). I had used one before – usually my friends’ as they were driving, and asked me to reply to a message- but I was stilled amazed at what it could do. Very quickly I discovered Instagram, which revived my passion for photography, something I always did when I was younger with my dad. In one sense it was a proactive (and at the time subconscious) way to grieve and also just helped take my mind off of things.
I started documenting daily life. There were the little things: a detail of the driftwood on my neighbours’ porch, or the escutcheon of my front door; big things, such as the field I drove past every morning filled with hay, or the way the sun rose through the moss-covered oak in front of the little white church; and of course the architecture, like Suburban Station’s Art Deco facade in Philadelphia or the little abandoned house in Ybor City. Unsurprisingly, this was all mixed in with selfies, cute dog pictures, food, and photos I took trying to be a bit too arty.
Looking back, I see how these photos reflected my life and state of mind at the time. The photos in Open Up provide memories of the last light of my time in Florida, a life that feels so distant from the life I live now. They also show a rebirth, and my discovery and growth into this new life. I thoroughly enjoy and anticipate people’s interpretations – both of the book entirely and the individual photos. Often I realise something about myself or the photo when someone tells me their view on it, which I find fascinating. Even when Stephen showed me the first draft of the book, with all the pairings he made, I was blown away at not just how he interpreted them but the coincidences he had made without knowing.
All the more fitting, then, that I can announce I will be part of my first exhibit this coming month. On April 20th I will participate in the ‘REMEMBRANCE Art Exhibit’ at the Chelsea Recreation Center, a show that will allow me to showcase some of my photos that have a memory or sense of nostalgia to them. Well.. I think I have plenty to choose from.
// Ghiradelli Square, San Francisco, California – March 12, 2017