Where I learned how to play basketball
Where I learned how to play basketball
Where I learned to catch frogs
Where I got my first good grade
Where I first saw someone forward flip dive
Where I helped with chickens
Where I had my first real job
A black and white reversal scan of a paper negative of a school playground.
4×5″ paper negative

Where I – December 2022 – on-going

This series is a current work-in-progress.

My brain works differently.

I seem to remember things differently than others do. Locations, times of year, and small details are seared into my memory for many random events in my life. On the other hand, I often forget something that happened relatively recently or the details of a conversation I had not long ago.

In this photo series, Where I, I share some locations of my childhood that I remember. Some may be pivotal. Others ephemeral. All remembered. These images were captured in precise geographic locations that somehow my brain will never forget.

I do not need to revisit these locations to remember what happened there. I can still see some of these places in high-fidelity, down to how the pavement was worn or the distance between swampy grass clumps as I jump between them chasing frogs, or how far I’d need to stretch to reach the next branch of a tree.

Many of my siblings are older enough than me that I didn’t spend a lot of time hanging out with them – instead, I was alone, outside, daydreaming. Countless hours spent in our backyard, in the woods, catching frogs in swamps, catching snakes along old stone walls, playing basketball either by myself in our driveway or at a nearby school. Unlike many kids today, I had to be told to come inside rather than being told to go outside.

My approach to photographing these locations, both digitally and on film, was to photograph them like the scene of some recent crime. I attempted to capture as much information about the location as I could into a single photograph – rather than focus on the compositional aesthetic, sharpness, depth of field, or mood of the image. These are, as Stieglitz might call them, straight photographs.

I hope the darkroom prints that I make of these images will serve as a constant reminder that seemingly unimportant, small experiences can often be the most vivid. That these may be the only times I was actually “in the moment” and so those memories stay stored permanently – like a giant rock outcropping that stays seemingly unchanged for decades but has, in fact, begun to erode.

Update: The story behind the paper negative is covered in Diversions #1.

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