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Under Construction
San Francisco Gay Pride Parade

August 15th, 2004

Class Tomorrow
Saturday. Not so bad, going into the office. A drive over to Office Max afterward to pick up photo mailers (I owe people photographs) and a look now through the contact sheets to find today's picture. It's approaching 5:00 in the afternoon as I write. Another movie arrived today from Netflix. I'm burned out on Zatoichi movies for the moment (for the year - who knows? - for the life). They're all pretty much the same and maybe it would have been better if they'd stopped after the first ten if it weren't for all the money they undoubtedly made on the eighteen that followed. What do I know? I'm just sitting here writing.

Let's see, what did I get from Netflix? War Photographer. My, my. I may have to watch it right now before my Japanese television soaps begin later this evening. More excitement, folks, here in Oakland.

I begin to understand why you bought the domain name.

Yes, well. A lack of purpose in life can lead to strange behavior.

Sunday. War Photographer is a documentary about James Nachtwey, a man who's spent his life obsessively photographing war and famine to the exclusion of most anything else in life that can't be packed into a suitcase or a camera bag. Sounds vaguely familiar. I thought about photo journalism when I was graduating from college in the late sixties during the Vietnam era. Just briefly, though, until I got my head around the reality rather than the idea of bombs and bullets. I got out of school and went into the Army as an Infantry lieutenant (for reasons too complicated to tell) and that killed any interest in voluntarily following the fighting.

They go to some lengths to suggest why Nachtwey has spent his life photographing death and misery. They followed him on assignment, talked to his editors, talked with him, talked with a woman friend, attempted on video to show what it was like to look at an exploding world though his eyes over the top of his camera (you could read the LED display, f 5.6, 250th of a second). It worked, but just barely. I don't think any sort of apology is necessary in an explanation. He says he's doing it to help fight war by bringing the images of war to people who would otherwise never see them. I think that's true, and I'm sure he both lives and believes it, but I doubt that's the fundamental root of his motivation. I suspect that lies somewhat farther down, beyond words, in a place of flickering light and subconscious shadow.

For whatever reason he searches out images of people in extremis, emotion at the edge. I'm glad that wasn't my particular bent, the need for all that excitement. I suspect I don't have the grit or the drive (didn't have the grit or the drive) to make a similar world shooting street portraits of interesting looking women in the middle of a crowd, maybe, but far from the struggle.

This is drifting to bullshit.

Yes, but I want to get this finished and head down to San Jose, check into my hotel and get ready for class tomorrow.

The banner photograph was taken on TMax-400 at the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade with a Nikon F5 mounted with a 135mm f 2.0 Nikkor lens.