Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Photograph Farm



Not long ago, I checked Jim Brandenburg's book "Chased by the Light" out from the library. For those who don't know this book, it's the story of Brandenburg's breathtaking project in which he made exactly one photograph per day for 3 months. Not just one photograph - he made exactly one exposure per day. I've long been fascinated by this project, which for me represents a sort of pinnacle of artistic risk taking.

When I checked the book out from the library, I also checked out the video, which has interviews with Brandenburg, etc. I enjoyed the video very much, especially the footage shot at Brandenburg's home/studio, Ravenswood, which is near Eli, Minnesota.

The thing that struck me the most in the video was Brandenburg referring fondly to Ravenswood and the 1500 acres surrounding his home as his 'photograph farm'. I was so taken by this that I actually ran the tape back and listened to it again.

I just love the idea of having a 'photograph farm' - a place where you raise photographs like crops. Every photography teacher I've spoken too has insisted that it's important to photograph stuff you care about - stuff you are near every day. But until I heard Brandenburg's words, I'd never heard anyone suggest that you could cultivate a relationship with a spot so that it functioned the way a farm or nursery works for growing plants - a continuous, inexhaustible supply of material to be photographed.

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