“My Americana” a long-term photography essay, loosely based on the famous Robert Frank masterpiece “The Americans”, which was photographed the year I was born. This personal essay documents places, people, events and gatherings which occur daily in the United States of America.
The genesis for this project came as I crossed our land over the course of the last three decades on assignments for newspapers, magazines and advertising clients I was drawn to the simple daily happenings, and oddities observed on the streets. Part of the reason for this was the continuous need to fill news space in the papers, but also as a journalist to provide readers with “slices of life” happening. This formative period also taught me to have my camera with me always!
As I’ve matured, re-devoted my career energies to “documentary” photography a new found interest in recording ordinary life evolved. I see many people continuing traditions, secular and non- secular, historical and whimsical. Take for example the eccentricities within my compilation herein youngsters choosing to use binoculars to look at other things, instead of Mount Rushmore. Or, the family including Zombie, tattooed mother, and superhero outfitted youngsters at Niagara Falls. Perhaps it is a ballerina in full stretch against a shop window in downtown Chicago.
The natural beauty of the country, a rainbow in a thunderstorm in Arches National Park, or the full moon setting over the Sonoran Desert in Arizona also draw my interest. Though my personal work is primarily in black and white (film or monochromatic digital files) color at times seems right for certain imagery. An example, contrasting use of color and black and white to record harvest in the Kansas heartland.
Backroads provide a wealth of stimulating environments to record my vision. The 15” (5 meters) Statue of Liberty, standing alone in a manicured field close to the state borders of Kentucky and Tennessee. And the completely absurd situation of a truck on blocks, a church and casino all is the same parking lot not a stone throw from the Little Big Horn National Park.
This project is in its third full year, I’ve driven over 20,000 miles, flown roughly 10,000 miles and produced approximately 75,000 images. Like the great essay Frank produced, I strive to create a contemporary view of the people which make this country. Small town football; homecoming in the Texas panhandle; Fourth of July in Montana; a Sunday service at the Dexter Avenue King First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, which was ground zero for the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s and where Dr. Martin Luther King served as Pastor (1963-1967).
What defines this country? It is a question I often ask myself. Freedom, patriotism, the rights granted for expression in speech, choice of religious practice and opportunity for other nationals to become United States citizens (naturalization image) all seem to have naturally become undercurrents in my essays.
The photo essay has always been part of my creative endeavor. Many of the individual images within are from larger collections and essays. Ranching, farming, logging as well as rodeo, pow-wow or National Parks have imagery which make them self-standing. The selected 35 images here though contribute to a more expansive view.
The essays continue, some work presented within this folio are from other current long-term projects or cinema documentaries in production (Burlesque).The majority of images presented have been created in the last five years.
Grant funding, will allow me to make a reality of the segments of society, and places not yet photographed / Metropolitan areas, the halls of our Founding Fathers and Washington D.C, the industrial “rust belt”, and the borders with Mexico and Canada.
Other contemporary issues to document showing the diversity of our people the KKK, Hindu, the border reconnaissance, immigrants with varied beliefs but all striving to call the USA their Americana.
1 April 2016
Tucson, Arizona, USA