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Photographically speaking, about the only thing on my mind at the present time is the book signing event at ModernBook Gallery tomorrow evening. So imagine my delight when my friend Mark Roberts (a fine photographer and a professor teaching Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign at Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts) sent me a book review! 

Ways Together

Waystogether-bookcover

“Godfrey DiGiorgi’s Ways Together is, appropriately enough, the kind of photo book you’d want to peruse while quietly sipping a cappuccino at your favorite coffee shop. The coffee shop has become one of the common gathering places of our time and it’s fascinating to observe how people use it for solitude as much as for socializing. In fact, the digital interconnectedness of our society now makes it difficult to tell by looking which is the intent of the people in these photographs — which is of course part of the point. The theme of isolation versus contact is nicely played out throughout the book, which progresses through sections titled “Apart”, “Alone”, “In Private” and “Together”. The images progress from one theme to the other and yet maintain a common look and feel that makes this a unified work rather than a jumbled collection of works with a theme applied post hoc.

Though coffee shops are often jam packed with people, crowded and noisy, the photos on display here were obviously taken during relatively quiet hours. And the resulting photographs, too, are “quiet”. They speak clearly but they don’t shout. We need more of that these days, I think.

– Mark Roberts – Photography & Multimedia
  www.robertstech.com 

Thanks Mark! 

(Mark is also the head honcho behind the PDML Photo Annual, now in its fourth year. Check it out by going to his website and looking through the books section. It’s worth it! 

Hope to see some of you at ModernBook Gallery on Thursday evening! 
Just in case, here’s the address again:

ModernBook Gallery
49 Geary Ave, San Francisco, CA
Book signing event!
August 2nd, 5:30-7:30 pm

– Godfrey

In the cafe this afternoon, a misbehaving Polaroid SX-70 in front of me. Failed, bad exposures, $3.50 apiece worth of them, strewn on the table. The next table over from me—two women sitting with two young children, boy and girl. I’d hoped to maybe catch a photo or two with the Polaroid but my film pack had jammed on the first exposure, requiring me to fuss with it and lose four frames of eight. The remaining film was taking too long in process to see whether the camera was working properly yet.

“Oh, my mom had one of those!” the younger of the two women spoke in my direction. “I love old Polaroids! Can you still get film?” A conversation ensued. Instagram, her iPhone, my Polaroid images on the iPad … I never did get the photo, or read my magazine. I did manage to finish my coffee. But another connection made, another neat person who I will remember next time I’m there, who will remember me that next time too. The ways we come together in this environment.

I’ve been working on a book. A book drawn from the series of photos I’ve been posting to various venues the past couple of years with the title “Communicating” … This is what it’s about. The book is now done.

 

Announcing

 

Ways Together

Studies in Distance and Closeness

by Godfrey DiGiorgi

With a foreword by Brooks Jensen, Editor LensWork Publishing

A full preview is available on my Blurb.com bookstore:

Godfrey DiGiorgi on Blurb.com – blurb.com/user/GDGPhoto

Invitation

I invite you to join me for a reception and book signing. We’ll celebrate Ways Together along with eleven other new photo books at

 

ModernBook Gallery

49 Geary Ave

San Francisco, Ca

August 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm

 

Wine will be served. Copies of “Ways Together” in hardback and paperback will be available for purchase. To reserve a signed and numbered book at the event, or for delivery by postal service, please send an email to godfreydigiorgi@me.com for details.

A photo book is bigger than the photos it contains. The photos speak together, in a larger voice, playing with each other and speaking together as one thing. The feeling I have experienced from doing the book, from seeing the work in print, is different from what I saw as each photograph formed in my viewfinder and on my computer screen. The concept, the intent expanded in the becoming to a book.

The journey from being a photographer to becoming an author has been a challenge drawn out over years. This is my first published book, I can see a goal now. It draws me further.

Sorry I missed posting last week’s entry. I was down with a truly nasty cold and flu, and for the past week I croaked about like a frog with the sinus runoff and little energy. I’m back in the flow again now, the camera’s back in my bag, and new exposures are happening again.

Over a year and some now I’ve been shooting and posting the series called “Communicating”. The latest addition happened last Monday evening..

Communicating #72

I’d started with the germ of this idea in 2005, portraits of people in context I’d titled in my head “This Cafe Life” that eventually just became “People.” It finished up as a picture a week project slide show. (Viewable here as a flash slide-show presentation … yeah, back when I thought flash was a potentially useful presentation engine. People 2005.) 

Revisiting the idea half a decade on, what struck me as I continued my cafe rounds was the way that communicating in these ‘third place’ situations varied and how the electronic telecommunications age had infiltrated since even 2005. So many people now head to a cafe, buy a drink, then immediately plug into their email or web browser oblivious to the surrounding play of goings on. Yet those outside the web of electronic comm still interact … if you keep your own head out of the cell phone or the web browser for a moment, communications do not cease. 

The end product idea of this year and some worth of effort has been to put this series into a book. I have enough photo material now to make a solid 30-50 image book. So this week I start a photo book making workshop. 

The reception and book signing event will be in July. Invitations will be sent. Stay tuned.

– Godfrey 

 

A pause to remember and respect the hundreds for whom all options have ceased.

Another for their friends, families and those who will miss them most.

Another moment to reflect on the fragility of life in the vastness of this cosmos.

Remember. And then continue on.

There is nothing else to do.
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“Only in silence the word,
only in dark the light,
only in dying, life;
bright the hawk’s flight
on the empty sky.”   

– Song of Ea, Ursula K. LeGuin

 

It was a quiet moment yesterday, late enough and cloudy enough that the light was utterly shadowless and had an interesting feel .. a ‘rich flatness’. It had been a somewhat long and unfocused day where I could not concentrate. I finally packed it in at my desk and headed over to a local cafe I’ve begun to frequent more. Warm enough to sit outside, so I did.

My book sat on the table in front of me. I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t focus on ‘what to do next’, kept getting distracted. I read a chapter in my book. Stopped. I pulled out my notebook. Fussed with my pen. Started to write. The act of writing a list of things to do, sequencing them, thinking about them, studying the words and characters led me into a different mental state. I was grateful to leave the one I’d been in. I closed the book and stuck it in my bag.

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Sitting there, meditating and sipping my drink. I felt like I hadn’t taken a decent photo all week. The notion came to me “From your seat, what do you see?” so I started to look around intently, but was again distracted. Voices in my head … “you should read! you should …” I didn’t know what. The camera was sitting on the table in front of me, ready, and I flipped it to video mode and took a long, slow pan starting at my extreme left and running to the right. Forty-eight seconds. I watched that video about ten times: it was easier to ‘see’, to concentrate using the video than to look at the space around me.

And then for fifteen minutes I made photos, without going more than forty feet. This scene was the first I saw and the last thing I photographed. 

You know what is really real when you see it on the video.
Last evening was a special event: the annual lighting of the classic fresnel lamp at Pigeon Point Lighthouse in Pescadero, California.

I arrived shortly before sunset began and was lucky to find a place to park quite close to where I had wanted to do my picture taking. It’s a little to the north of the lighthouse with a broad view of the cliffs and seacoast. 

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There was quite a crowd gathered, I have no idea how many in toto but the row upon row of photographers assembled was impressive. The spot I’d envisioned was wonderfully free of obstructions and gave me the view I wanted. I imagined a fearsome din of shutters chattering at the moment of lighting, but you would need better ears than mine to hear it. 

I made about 200 exposures from sunset through the lighting … then stopped and just enjoyed the glorious view of this beacon alight once more for a half hour. Such a beautiful light! Its beams reach out across the vastness and warn sailors of their peril at the same time they beckon onwards: “Soon you will land in a magical place!” they seem to say. 

That was enough. It was cold, my fingers were frozen. I was done for the night and happy. 

Lots of rendering to do now … 
On one of the camera equipment forums someone said: 

“… good photography is more than a checklist of criteria- and that’s where my challenge begins:

I want you to post 1 (one) photo. One of your m4/3 images that you’ve always liked. Maybe it didn’t get the reaction you wanted, but you like it because it’s different- outside of the norm. It doesn’t adhere to the rules of “good” photography. … “

I thought this was a lovely idea And some fun photos were posted in response. So I picked a photo and posted it … 

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It was fun to pick one photo, but of course it wasn’t really satisfying enough. I found about three dozen that I thought might be worth working on. I picked nine out of that and have posted them to a new set on Flickr … you’re welcome to enjoy them. 

BTW: I never think about rules when I’m making photographs. I just make photographs that appeal to my eye. So I’m not entirely sure what rules I’m breaking … 

Maybe you can tell me? 
I’d lived in Cupertino for 14 years when I moved here, in an apartment down the street from my new job at Apple Computer. Over that near decade and a half so much living had flowed under the bridge it is a book to write in my dotage, a huge piece of my memoirs. The attachment to my apartment there was deep and intense, and it took me lot of energy to move on from it. When I did, it was the joy of moving in with my partner and best friend that made it easy to endure the effort. 

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So I hardly thought that living in Sunnyvale for a mere five years, in a time when my life was seemingly much simpler, would make moving so difficult. We get along well, the apartment here has been convenient and comfortable if nothing particularly special. We’re moving to a condominium in a town new to me, which is exciting in and of itself. 

And yet in this five years of living here, through a period of economic challenge and many event personal and deep if not “large” in the same way as my time in Cupertino, I have found great joy in a simple morning walk that I’ve tried to do every day. These neighborhood streets, the flotsam and jetsam of wind and traffic that fill the ground with signs, the cafe where I sit on morning and enjoy the chill or warmth of outdoor air … they have become mine, a landscape in my thoughts through which I see and travel distances unimaginable any other way. 

Our new place is only six miles away. The neighborhood there is new, unexplored in large part, and very walkable. But still: it is hard to move. It is difficult to tear oneself away from the familiar, from the comfortable, from the intimate that you have come to know and love. 

It will happen, it is happening. Half my stuff is already bundled ready to move.  I’ll be closing down the office tomorrow for a week or two. The new place is almost ready to move into … the truck will be here Wednesday morning. And while it is only a few minutes drive away, I will no longer be part of this place, this walk, these small things I see. 

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And I am ready now, waiting, to see what I find and where my footsteps lead my eyes. In a new place again. 

“The Eternal admires the creations of Time.” – William Blake
United Airlines sent me a note in May that my frequent flyer miles were going to go away if I didn’t book something with them before the end of June. So I thought, ‘heck, i haven’t been to NY since mom passed away, i should visit my brothers and see what’s going on back east.’ 

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One of my friends was available and I had the time to visit yesterday. So on September 11, 2010, I took the train from Westchester down into Manhattan. The significance of the date was not lost on me. 

New York City is, indeed, a living organism. There wasn’t a lot of time, I had another engagement on my calendar in the evening. I  rode the Harlem Line down to Grand Central and feeling the heat as I exited the train brought back vivid memories of growing up in and around this place. 

The City in Summer is always about sweat. It’s always about movement, constant movement, the sound of so much going on resonating and colliding in the hot, damp air. Riding the subway, mid-day on a Saturday, it is jammed as if in rush-hour in any other city. I didn’t really remember the path to my friend’s place on 7th and First: I felt my way there riding the subways after a cursory glance at the map, and walked when I got off nearby. 

The street is New York. Every block, every neighborhood full of people talking, eating, buying, selling, sitting, laughing, crying, running, walking. All different ages, all different kinds. It is exhilarating. Buzz about the Towers. Buzz about the mosque, about politics, about what’s good and what sucks. I talked with a woman on the subway platform, jammed and jostled with passengers in the cars screeching through their tunnels underground, enjoyed an ice cream cone while watching a woman and her two youngsters doing the same. There’s enough to keep your ears and eyes full no matter where you turn. 

So glad I made it here at this time. 
I haven’t posted much for a while.

I’ve been busy. 
I’m preparing to move soon.
I’ve been dealing with a painful foot.
They’ve paved my street with the tar stripes.
I’ve been distracted due to business. 
It’s been too warm.
It’s been too cool.
I’ve been tired.
It’s too early.
I’ve got too much to do.
I haven’t had the time

All these things get in the way. They chatter in the mind, noisy ghosts that whine and nag.

It’s so easy to get stuck when you lose the silence of your thoughts. I must let fewer things get in the way. 

This morning I rose at 5:30. I quieted all my thoughts, picked up my book and camera, went for my walk. It was cool, but not too cool. There were few people out on the street walking, it was quiet. The air was soft, the coffee at the cafe down the street warm. It felt good. I made a few photos I liked. 

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As I sat in the cafe reading my book and enjoying the quiet, the cloud cover broke and the light turned exquisite. The empty table and chairs, the pulls for the window shade, all turned beautiful in the soft light and shadow. 

I posted five photos to my flickr.com stream today: 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/gdgphoto

And I put four of these photos into a quiet fragment of an idea that I’ve been working on, a video presentation.  

http://www.gdgphoto.com/pavement-fragment/

Please visit and enjoy.