The new economy has driven jobs, institutions, businesses and families out of rural areas, but life here still continues on a smaller scale, and parades are not just about floats an big bands. I like the anti-bullying unit in the Cambridge parade.
Watching George Forss at the parade, I saw that unlike me, who was rushing up and down the street switching lens and wearing myself out in the heat, George focuses on one thing and tries to capture a telling image of it. He explained this to me, and I got it. I didn't take 200 photos of the parade, I took three or four. We've all seen the images of the flags and marchers, but it is in the face of this child that you can see the meaning of a parade. I'm putting up a Memorial Day Album on Facebook, photos from the weekend – chickens, flowers, Bedlam Corners Store salvation, George's gallery, and the parade. Simon also. Come and see.
It seems to me the first death occurs when someone stops learning. Every time, I see George, he teaches me something new. He has taught me to think about my pictures. At the parade, he taught me to focus on one thing and not try and capture everything. He is teaching me how to compose photos more thoughtfully. My photography instructor Christine Glade is teaching me how to use my fancy camera and also how to understand light and shutter speed.
Watching George in his darkroom, I am struck by his process of taking a photo and mine. I will never know the particular thrill and almost spiritual challenge of mixing chemicals, working in darkness and seeing an image crystallize on paper that will soon be unavailable anywhere. I'm not sure I could deal with his process, I do not really have the patience for it, and it is not really what I do. But it is thrilling to see it.
I see people all around me who seem to have stopped learning – people who are always on the left, or always on the right. People who are angry and who complain about their lives. People who tell me how to live and who are sure they know what their dogs are thinking. People who tell me I need a million dollars in the bank to grow old in America. People who tell me there is no other way to be healthy than to stuff my life with pills and tests. As I move through life, I understand every day how little I know, how much I have to learn, how eager I am to learn what I can. And to be wary of people who are certain of things. They don't know the most important thing – there is nothing you can't learn from.
George is always learning about photography, always willing to teach, and his is the kind of creativity that you can learn from just being around. He teaches me also how to be accepting of life. To be generous. George does not complain about the changes in photography that threatened to marginalize him. About the bad luck – the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers – that torpedoed years of brilliant work photographing New York cityscapes. His world collapsed, but he has found a new world to take photos of.
George Forss showed me his darkroom in the Ginofor Gallery today after the Memorial Day Parade in Cambridge, N.Y. I love digital photography, but I would love to work in a darkroom, it seems so quiet and self-contained. A spiritual place, especially when George is inside of one. He helped me figure out how to get this shot in near total darkness, switching all kinds of plugs, bulbs and power sources.
The volunteers working on the Bedlam Corners General Store sweated through a sticky Memorial Day to close up the burned-out building, plywood all the open windows, chase out the pigeons and their droppings. It was amazing to see what a small group of committed volunteers could accomplish in a few days with a building that has been sitting idle for two years.
Roland LeBlack, a neighbor, checks in before closing up the last hole in the eastern wall. A powerful thing to witness. Album on Facebook.