Roadside Remembrance – New Direction


Earlier this month I had a mini-exhibit at Photo Independent (Los Angeles) and subsequently posted that due to some really good feedback, that I was going to radically alter one of my in-process projects. So a little bit about that today and not that I have everything figured out yet, but that I have a new sense of direction.

First, the back story; I had been photographing roadside remembrance memorials for some time starting in late 2006. This project was featured as a portfolio titled In Passing published in LensWork magazine (Issue #74) in 2008. I continued to work this project as an investigation into loss and remembrance. I had been thinking that I wanted this project wrapped up neat and tidy to be published in a book.

I was recently exchanging emails with Sara Terry who publishes the Aftermath Series and her annual book of War is Only Half the Story. There are a number of parallels with her Aftermath series about the consequences of war and my project’s visual investigation into the consequences of a horrific accident. She had stated that this year it seemed that it was harder for her to get her annual funding through Kickstarter. It was no surprise that the aftermath photographs she features, although extremely socially relevant, are not photographs that exhibit or sell very well.  Fortunately Terry was two tables down from me at Photo Independent so we had plenty of time to talk about her funding and exhibiting issues with her Aftermath series books and her advice about my roadside memorial and remembrance project.

Terry also pointed out that although the memorial project was solid documentary work, the photographs were not “mine” in the same sense as my Memory Pods project. Meaning that my Memory Pods photographs had a uniqueness that was entirely due to how I created the photographs, which came from an inner desire to tell a specific story. She felt that I was not a documentary photographer per se, and that maybe I need to think about that the memorial project was a developmental touch-stone and move on, unless I could make it mine.

Terry provided the necessary catalyst to see what was bothering me about trying to push my project forward, trying to incorporate additional images, while I was already working in a different way to photograph and narrate a project. Thus I am making a complete break from the memorial project (black & white photographs of roadside memorials) to investigate other aspects of loss and remembrance, while reworking this project back into the original color photographs.

A new image for this series is included with this post, above one version that incorporates some of the image manipulation aspects drawn from my Memory Pods project, while below is what I would call the hard-edge (relatively un-manipulated) version. I think that a consensus might say that the image below appears contemporary, although the image above with the post-exposure manipulation would look almost identical if I had used my lens at a wide-open aperture.

This is also a photograph unlike the others in my project as it does not depict an actual memorial, but the tracks that were left in the aftermath. I think that this image hints at the turmoil of the event.

I had also thought about changing the working title to ‘Lest I Forget’, after one one of my early images in this project. (Update; I have subsequently determined that the another working title for the color artwork might be more relevant).

The good news is that I do not need to decide which of the two versions I might use at this point, but will consider all versions as I figure this out.


Featured photograph: Tracks copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale



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