France: Life Along the Canals, Summer of 1973

Looking for a shot of Notre Dame from L’Adour, the barge on which I spent the summer of 1973, I went through contact prints from 13 rolls of film. Many photos I’d never printed. Even the boring shots capture life along the canals, from Toulouse to Paris.

One of the few photos I printed.

Our barge—péniche—was a working boat, its cargo, grain. Pierre, the captain, and his family lived on the barge all year long. Bunk beds took the place of cargo, along with a makeshift bathroom and kitchen.

While the barge moved slowly towards our day’s destination, our group of American and French students cycled through the countryside and towns along the canals on one-speed bicycles.

Sometimes, we  helped lockkeepers open and shut hand-powered locks.
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In Carcassonne on Bastille Day, we had front row seats to the greased pole event.

Some days, we spent on board.

In the middle of the trip, we detoured to the Alps for a hike, catching up with the barge a few days later.

Somehow we got to Versailles!

After about five weeks, we arrived in Paris where we docked along the Left Bank of the Seine facing Notre Dame. As Bateaux Mouches passed by, tour guides pointed out the “French students,” meaning us.

As soon as I heard about the fire at Notre Dame, I started looking for a photo of the cathedral. Before adjusting the color, scans of black-and-white negatives have a sepia-toned look. This seemed perfect for my photo of Notre Dame taken 46 years ago.

Winter Photographs 2018

I’m getting ready for Newton Open Studios where I’ll be showing photography and pastels (a few) at the New Art Center. You’re invited to a special opening reception on Friday, April 6 from 6-8 pm.

A series is emerging from recent work. Something to do with the weather?

Black Snow

Curbside Ice 1

Curbside Ice 2

Curbside Ice 3

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Icy Bus Stop 1

Crystal Lake

Icy Bus Stop 2

Snowy Doormat

Photography: From 36 to Memory Card

Photos hanging at True Bistro, Somerville, MA
True Bistro, Somerville, MA

My photos will be on display through the end of December at True Bistro, an upscale vegan restaurant in Somerville, MA, so I’m dedicating this post to photography.

I’ve stopped thinking in 36’s. Frame by frame for almost 40 years, I counted the shots. I watched the numbers on the camera’s dial to know how many shots were left on the roll of film. Then, one day, poof! No more film. No more counting. I still tell myself, “Film is cheap,” but it doesn’t matter really how many shots I take. Oddly, I don’t take more photos than I used to. Factoring in the “delete” button, I may end up with fewer photos at the end of a shoot.

Boylston Street at night photo
Boylston Street, 2013 (iPhone)

These days, I work in waves, bouncing between my book projects, freelance graphic design, and photography. Sometimes it takes a trip for me to pick up my camera, which helps me focus. That said, my iPhone is always with me and I use its camera almost every day. I’ve even sold photos taken on my iPhone.

Photo of trees
Trees, Frederick’s Lake, 1970

In seventh grade I was among a small group of students plucked from art class to learn photography. Seth Joel came down from the high school to teach us. I’m not sure where the darkroom came from, but the school needed students to use it. That’s how photography became my passion, leading to taking a workshop with LIFE Magazine photographer Yale Joel and then studying photography at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

Photo - Autumn (vines on wall), 1978
Autumn (vines on wall), 1978

RISD wasn’t about practical photography. It was about art with a capital “A.” But not too abstract, which is what I was doing. Living in Providence, there wasn’t much in the way of nature so I found nature in cars and walls. My photos fell into groups: underwater, on land, and outer space, so I called my senior show at Woods-Gerry Gallery “Unreal Reality.” In 1981, I called an exhibition of the RISD photos at the White Gallery in Tel Aviv “Games of the Imagination.”

Photo of Naomi Shemi, Tzfat
Naomi Shemi, Tzfat, 1978

During my years in Israel, where I worked as a graphic designer, some portraits crept into my body of abstract work. Thinking my photos were actual landscapes, a question I heard often was, “Where did you take it?”

Photo of car - Volcano
Volcano (car), 1989

In New York, Maine, and Massachusetts, I continued to shoot walls and cars, leaving it up to the viewer to interpret my images. It’s only been the past 10 years that my photos have become more realistic, though still abstract. I continue to explore layers: reflections on glass, what’s inside, and what’s beyond.

Photo Fish Shanghai Zoo
Fish, Shanghai Zoo, 2009

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Even with a realistic twist, my photos may make the viewer wonder what’s real or not, even though they are single exposures, not sandwiched together in Photoshop.