Photography, for me, is like listening ... or making conversation. When I was around eight years old I started playing the violin and, although I was intrigued by the shape and form of the violin, I wasn't very good at it. My practice space was in the basement of our 1920's home. The basement had a huge oil furnace with several small side rooms and a toilet surrounded by three walls. I was to practice in one of the side rooms; however I was terrified of what lurked in and around the furnace. So instead of playing the violin, I'd position myself on the basement floor in order to see the side rooms, the toilet, and all the nooks and crannies around the furnace.
The basement pantry housed a large collection of magazines. I would look through National Geographic, Look, Life, and Art in America; absorbing all the images. I would imagine myself in some far away land riding camels, herding sheep, or painting my body with bold white symbols. I'd have conversations with women scrubbing clothes along a river, the man fishing in the ice, or play with children half clothed. Periodically, I'd hear a creak or moan from the furnace and I'd scan the basement for any intruders. Most of the sounds would come from my family above me; their footsteps, a muffled conversation, or the din of the television.
I'd lie back on the floor and wonder how to capture this sound. How can I stop time? What kind of image would it look like? I'd capture my fathers' furrowed face, my sisters playing Old Maid, the television surrounded by overstuffed chairs, the red brocade couch and wallpaper to match. I'd make snapshots in my mind.
I've been photographing since I was a teenager and even built my own darkroom when I was sixteen in the basement (different house, same era). When I was thirty, someone handed me a large format camera and this fine tuned my listening. It slows time. It insists on conversations with my subject matter; whether it is with people or with landscapes. Photography is my listening device.