Fragility of our existence

Since I am back working on the photographs from my series In Passing, I also find myself thinking about the essence of this series. The way things are progressing, having completed a major redo of a half dozen images from the series, I will probably also re-publish my Blurb book as well.

That being the case, I will probably also update my thoughts about this series. I don’t know if that means just tweaking the Introduction or adding a new Forward for the second edition. Right now, I just don’t know.I also find myself re-examining why I started and eventually finished photographing this series as well.

Especially having read again the Szarkowski book Windows and Mirrors. I think that this project started off as a Window, a direct observation of what I saw. Then part way through it as I reflected on what I photographed, I realized that there was a big component of my dealing with my own mortality, thus it was becoming more of a Mirrorproject; introspective. So that effected what I subsequently photographed and how I developed the final photographic images.

Now I find that I am moving back to a stronger Window presentation of the photographs. And thinking that the series is more about the fragility of our existence and the rawness of sudden tragic events which can alter us forever more. A cemetery usually represents a peaceful final resting place. A roadside memorial grounds you to the actual, brutal event. Sometimes you can see the obvious traces. Sometimes not.

And increasingly, I am finding the roadside memorials that I did photograph, are no longer there. The traces of the events are rapidily fading, like most memories. The only thing remaining is my record.

I also find that after writing about Joel Sternfeld’s book American Prospects, that in fact I had incorporated some of his methodogly as my project had progressed, moving the subject further away and to the edges of the photograph. I had not realized I was creating my photographs in this manner, but there was the sudden recognition of familiarity of what I photographed and the Sternfeld photographs. Subtle influences that get incorporated, eh?

Best regards, Doug

11/18/09 Update: Second edition of In Passing is now published and available here.

4 thoughts on “Fragility of our existence

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  1. Doug, as you know, I have been affected by your In Passing series. Now, I cannot drive or walk past a roadside marker without thinking about this series and the fragility of live, in general. It’s kind of a wake up call to appreciate the moment and not take things, or especially people, for granted. I still even write posts about it:

    I’m inspired by your dedication to the project. You’ve been published, made a book, etc. yet, you still keep on working it. It must be quite a fire that burns within you.

  2. Paul, thanks, and now finding myself re-examing this series, both in content and photographic presentation, I don’t know if that is a good thing or not.

    But nevertheless, I am making some changes that I think are for the better, so maybe the third time is the charm, eh? THEN I can leave this alone…;- )

  3. I wonder if you’ll ever really be finished with it. I will probably take on a life of its own.

    I am currently listening to an audio book that was 40 years in the making. Ralph Ellison’s Juneteenth. It is a good book, but I was simply amazed that the author worked on the book for most of his life. It was only released after his death, and then by his wife. He was still working on it, constantly revising it. A true life’s work.

  4. Which takes me back to a question that Brooks Jensen had asked me during my interview, “When is a project complete?”

    I am not sure….

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