in the manner of

I cannot imagine my life without the library. The books I check out seem to alternately shore up my foundation and create cracks—a cycle of building up and tearing down that propels me forward. This is the process of lifelong learning and questioning.

I’m enjoying a little art history education these days.

On a recent trip to the library, I borrowed the book, Edward Hopper: A Modern Master, by Ita G. Berkow, published in 1996. I spent a lazy weekend afternoon pouring over Hopper’s iconic paintings—scenes of quiet solitude, comfort, isolation, contemplation, and vulnerability.

Many of the paintings were based on real-life observations, and in this way reminded me of photographs. A quick internet search confirmed my expectation that there might be photographs inspired by Edward Hopper’s paintings. Take a look at the work of Richard Tuschman and his Hopper Meditations.

“I have always loved the way Hopper’s paintings, with an economy of means, are able to address the mysteries and complexities of the human condition. Placing one or two figures in humble, intimate settings, he created quiet scenes that are psychologically compelling with open-ended narratives. The characters’ emotional states can seem to waver paradoxically between reverie and alienation, or perhaps between longing and resignation. Dramatic lighting heightens the emotional overtones, but any final interpretation is left to the viewer. These are all qualities I hope to imbue in my images as well.” —Richard Tuschman

Motivated by the work of Hopper, I set out to review my images, searching for any that might be in his manner, and making a few new photographs that incorporated elements reminiscent of his work.

I tried to discern what it is about his paintings that draw me in. First, there is color—richly saturated and bright. Then there is light—bold, harsh, dark. And then there is the subject matter and context—relatable scenes of everyday life, small towns, hotels, offices, and restaurants.

And there is the deep appreciation of something as simple as sunlight in the cafeteria.

and the rain comes

I wonder where the next pictures will come from . . . and sometimes I wonder if they will come at all. Still, no matter what, I call myself a photographer.

When I am occupied with the everyday routines of life and the ordinariness of it all, it’s easy to take beauty for granted. And when I slow my pace and breathe, it’s equally easy to immerse myself in that same ordinariness.

To see with amazing clarity the texture of the cement floor in the garage, the way shadows caress the make-shift potting bench, and the light that draws a simple tableau of garden tools. This is magic.

I have but one job—to move through the days—embracing this beauty, making space for it in my heart.

Releasing what I see and feel. So the rain will come again.

Note: This creative arrangement—structuring photographs across a grid—was inspired by fellow photographer Wayne Swanson and his photographs of Dad’s Tools.

salt of the earth

Inspired by Rick Bragg’s latest book, The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table.

Some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever found. And the audio version, narrated by Bragg with his soft Southern drawl, made me long for my own mother’s homemade bread pudding one more time. Like Bragg’s mother, she never used a recipe or a cookbook and food was her way of showing love. If you asked her, I’m sure she’d say cooking was the one thing she knew she was good at.

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
— Colossians 4:6