After careful and meticulous (I hope) examination, I’ve selected some 200 photographs to print from the several thousand taken in Newfoundland. Having so many to choose from is like deciding which of your children will live and the others, well, you get the picture. In this case, several thousand negatives (most of them!) will never see the light of an enlarger. They will be destined to remain in the files until some misguided cultural anthropologist in a dig discovers them and announces a major find. Uh-huh, sure.
From these 200+ images will be the ones I choose to be included in the book “Arn? Narn.”. In turn, those will determine how the book will be divided into chapters. At this point, I’ve no idea how they will come together once selected. I also have no idea of how many I’ll wind up including. It’s much like a very large puzzle whose final image is not on the cover of the box in which it came. How do you put so many disparate pieces together cohesively when you don’t know what it’s supposed to look like? It’s sort of like the ultimate blind date.
Having lived so intimately with these images, it gets to the point that I don’t know if they’re any good. I do have favorites, of course, but there is no rhyme or reason for that. Those may not necessarily make it to the book. Only throwing them together and seeing how they work will I be able to start to shape this.
Like the written word, what I choose, what I edit, will certainly tell a particular story. Rearrange them, add/subtract, and it’s now another story or at the very least one with a different point of view. I have to ask myself continuously, how do I want to tell this story: this tale of survival, this morality play staged against a backdrop of beauty and government greed, and finally what do I bring to it and can I keep my opinions locked down? It’s like being given a dictionary but told “You can only use words that have no “e”s in them. Go ahead and write your story.” I can’t use everything.
I know what my given words, my photos, are. It’s just I don’t know yet how to put them down in a way that makes sense. Eloquence with words is one thing; eloquence with images is an altogether different situation.
So I will enter the darkroom, play and sing diddly music and Peter Gabriel, and print. These will be master prints (suitable for exhibition), so it’s going to take some time. There’s no pressure yet to produce this by a certain date, so I can dawdle, but I won’t. I can’t wait to see what this looks like.