Part one was about the lessons learned in burning a Christmas tree. That was a year ago.
Yesterday was a long, rough trip, with lessons of its own: Heat rises. Courtesy is a veneer. Etiquette is for the timid. Long exposures drain batteries. There is never enough time. Shovels aren't long enough. Always check your six.
And it's a good idea, at the end of the day, to set something on fire. Makes a man feel accomplished.
29 January 2012
25 January 2012
In the fall of 1976 my parents traveled to Yancey County from Charleston, SC. They were on their honeymoon, and the South Toe river had just flooded in a little town called Micaville. Construction workers were replacing a bridge on the Yancey Railroad, and my dad, ever the railroad enthusiast, stopped to take pictures.
I had no idea these slides existed until after I graduated from college and began working on the Kona project, documenting the remains of the Yancey Railroad. My dad had a way of revealing such information just when you were starting to feel proud of yourself. "Oh, the Yancey Railroad? Yeah, I photographed that thirty years ago. You know, when it was still operating. But don't worry, yours will probably be better."
I remember standing in his office with these slides held up, blinking into a lamp. The railroad was amazing, of course, but what made my jaw drop was the shot of the church at Kona. If not for the mold on the AgfaColor slides, it could have been taken that afternoon. In fact, I had just photographed it that summer.
I was born five years after these photos were taken, and ten years after that, we moved to Yancey County. By then the railroad was gone. The big flood came in 1977, wiping out the work these men in the pictures had done a year earlier. During that flood my wife was born. The tracks are still there outside her mother's house. We were married on a rock, by the South Toe, less than a mile from the place where these photos were shot.
My dad performed the ceremony.
Bill Moree once told me that the only reason we do what we do as photographers is that we like to look at our pictures hanging on the wall. Well, today I shot about five hundred frames of the governor drinking beer at a press conference. A hundred photos for every one of these YRR slides. I doubt I'll ever hang any of them on the wall.
Bill was wrong; there is another reason we do it. I'm not sure what it is. But as I was driving back from the press conference I caught myself composing an email to my dad: "Drank beer with the governor today, here are the shots." Just one sentence. Because, whatever that other reason is, my dad understood it.
All photos by Rev. C D Cooper, III:
04 January 2012
01 January 2012
At the start of each year I like to clear out my folder of web-ready images waiting to be posted. And though I sort of feel like year-in-review posts are redundant for this type of blog, especially with the chronological sidebar over there on the right, I have added a few images to represent the best/worst moments.
I was going to caption them all, and then I actually looked at them and decided that they can be summed up very simply: Here's to 2011--May we never see the likes of you again.
I've always been sad to see a year go. Not this time. So, for 2012, my usual refrain: Keep your head down, keep your eyes on the horizon, and keep your hands in the soil, clutching the roots.
"If you're going to tell the truth,
you have to admit that there are moments worth capturing because they were good. These are the times you'll remember later, not because they were beautiful or true--though they may have been--but because they were good. Photojournalists struggle with this, because they focus first on the truth. But if you can't confess that every now and then you find a piece of real beauty in front of your lens, you're not telling the truth at all." -Max Cooper on wedding photography