I don’t collect much of anything these days, preferring my own version of more with less.
But I make an exception for fine photography books. Studying the works of artists I admire, I develop an eye for the nuances of what makes a better picture and how images come together to create a narrative where experiences and emotions meld together.
Getting lost in the pages of a photography book is like falling in love. My fingers glide across the pages, the texture like a relief map allowing me to walk the terrain of the pictures. My eye travels the frame from edge to edge, and I like to imagine where the photographer might have stood as the picture was made. I can almost feel the sun on my shoulders and the wind swirling as if to lift me. I study the book’s binding and the careful construction and wonder over the origin of the title. I look up other works by the authors. I read the accompanying essays, prose and poetry aloud trying to make sense of it all. And when I cannot, I accept that listening to art is much more than simply liking it. I can appreciate even what I do not fully understand.
I only know that I am drawn to these photographs, and for this I am grateful. For to feel this deeply, is a gift.
This is my latest favorite photo book, Nothing That Falls Away, by Meg Griffiths and Eliot Dudik. This project was photographed along Highway 50 across central Nevada, “The Loneliest Road in America.” The images were made together in tandem and the book does not designate which photographer took which pictures. Like feeling lonely in a crowd, there is both isolation and connection depending on your perspective. As Meg Griffith writes, “I think to myself, I’ve never felt more alive.” There is something about standing in the middle of nowhere looking at something that is very nearly nothing that grounds us in the same way a majestic mountain view can – where we see both the smallness and the grandness of life in one fell swoop.
I read and re-read these lines from Eliot Dudik.
“In the end, not enough is too much. Our capacity for love falters, but our friendship grows without pause. We return to the desert, making perfect compositions together, separately.”
And I feel my own new journey begin, eyes fixed on the horizon.