Around 2008 I ran out of ideas for work made in the studio. I began wondering how else I might make work, or even if I could continue to make it.
At about this time I was able to acquire two beautiful cameras that belong to my enduring romance with photography—a 35 mm rangefinder Leica and a 4 x 5 Linhof. The former is linked to the tradition of “street photography” and the “decisive moment” represented by the work of Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson, the latter to the mystical landscapes of Edward Weston and Minor White. In my 70s, emboldened by my age and these beautiful machines, I began to work outside the studio, with little idea of what exactly would come of it.
Oregon Hill began as an overdue attempt to get to know my neighbors. I have lived on a country road three miles long for almost thirty years. A few of my neighbors came up the road and introduced themselves as soon as I moved in. Stan Harper, or “Popeye” as he is known, cut and stacked wood for me, and pulled my car out of many a ditch in the winter before I learned to respect snowy roads. Glen Davis took hay off the field for as long as he kept milk cows; and Avery Bush shoveled a foot of horse manure out of my barn in a couple of hours.
But I have worked away from home and haven’t taken the time to get to know most of my neighbors. My initial intention was to photograph everyone on the road, but not everyone was willing. For those who were, the sessions and a subsequent exhibition in the town of Lisle brought forth an enthusiastic stream of gossip and reminiscing. This is an on-going project, a way of expanding these friendships and learning more about the history of where I live and the people who have lived here much longer than I.