Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Russian.

Bon matin.

Banana, espresso, water. As dusk began to settle over the neighborhood yesterday apres work, I picked up a new crop of photos shot with two of my cameras: the old faithful and the Russian. Even though my Kiev is medium format, I was anticipating rectangle exposures. Not so. Still waiting on a film order to be delivered from California, I am excited to experiment more. I haven't felt so hungry to shoot quite like this in a long time. Yesterday, elated with my pick up, I was feeling brave and asked this SASSY teen for her portrait (in quiet French). She beamed at my one liner and just gave me her face wide open; a surprising gap toothed grin. I grinned, thanked her and cursed myself for not having the know how to prepare for moments like these. It was my last shot on yet another roll of black and white. I need to GET REAL about making hand out cards.

Portraits, I take a million a day with my mind's eye. The stupid thing is, I always have my camera on my person when I am out and about with Leo. Sometimes I am just too shy to ask. My favorite portrait to snap is this amazing little Italian man who lives on my street. He is old as the hills and spends every waking moment on his front porch. He made some sort of wind shelter out of potato sacks and twine and he loooooooves his Italian opera. He calls out "Bella" three times over every morning and afternoon that I pass his roost. Six bellas, without fail. It makes me grin stupidly and I always make sure to move my hips for him (even though he probably doesn't notice through the potato sack wall). I can't help it, he makes me feel like a WOMAN. Did I mention he is in his eighties? Maybe older. The old men here have unbelievable stories etched into their faces. These are the faces I long to shoot everyday. Tell the story.

Yesterday it was a man leaning against a telephone booth, smoking. Everyone smokes in Montreal; man, woman, teen.

Photojournalism is heavy on my mind.

Uncle James suggested this occupation to me when I was 13 or so, sitting in my Grandma's living room at a family gathering. I had never heard it named before and I remember how exciting he made it sound, spelling out his vision for me. "Shooting in the front lines with a scarf around your head", he said. I will never forget that. It was a vague idea that has sat shelved within me for a long time. Last night, unable to sleep, I read a volume on photojournalism by Life. The photos! Photo essays, layout, themes, umbrella ideas.

Who knows what is in store.

It feels so good to be ON TO SOMETHING (again), photographically speaking. Slumps, swamps, dumps, ditches, ruts and hopeless pits are unavoidable. I like to think of falling into them as a reminder of how far I have come. Markers. Hopeless marking points, if you will. Falling into a swamp is really the most hopeless thing in the world. Especially when you have spent 45 minutes tender footing over sticks, slop, stumps and muck to reach the treeline at the back of one's piece. I saw a rookie planter get sucked down to her shoulders in a swamp once. Fast, too. (For anyone interested, the best and quickest way to maneuver oneself out of a swamp is to find a strong stick or shovel that you can lay across the sinkhole to use as leverage while hauling your body out). Swamphand, trenchfoot. Shit happens.

One foot in the bush, one in the city these days. A part of me is so nervous to face summer on my own here. I was really looking forward to my third year as a planter, knowing the ropes well this time. Yesterday I spoke with Maya while Leo and I sat in the sun on Laurier East. She is going back (5th year!) as a foreman this time 'round. It is the most difficult and thankless job, weak pay for the shear amount of work one is responsible for but somehow it all seems worth it. Big time pride. It is not a job many people could do, that much I know. She will run her own crew, keep up morale when they land in the shit, deliver them to the Block each morning, drop trees at each cache to get the day rolling and then spend the day humping heavy bags (40 pounds on each shoulder) of trees into her planter's pieces. Respect. Maya, I would plant good trees for you. I am proud to know you! You are so incredibly strong, you will be a force. PRT needs more lady power at the helm. HIIII YA.

Anyway, can't seem to stop writing about the plant these days. No apologies either. Below is a sample of photos off my first roll shot with my Russian. Sure shot! I was convinced every shot would be a blur due to not really knowing how to operate this beast, no tripod to be found, no light meter, never mind the shear mechanics of the camera. But considering all of these variables, I am pleased with the results of my first go at shooting a medium format camera.

All of the photos (shot with a Kiev 60-TTL camera, 120 Ilford) below were shot the day I called in fake sick to the kitchen. Sometimes you just have to take a mental health day and do something for yourself. This is what I like to do. Wake early, eat a simple breakfast in the quiet sun, grab keys, film and a camera and head out to explore. I need to work up the nerve to start shooting more strangers. It is so much harder to do in Montreal that it was in Winnipeg! My humble tongue, it will come.

Enjoy, Meg.

Old Man Winter; Montreal, 2011.

Walking along Laurier East; Montreal, 2011.

Barflies on Laurier; Montreal, 2011.

Bikes at Chateau Clark; Montreal, 2011.

Strange kids on Laurier; Montreal, 2011.

The Future is Nom; my desk, Montreal, 2011.

Yogis hard at work; Montreal, 2011.

A strange mural; Montreal, 2011.

1 comment:

  1. "Photojournalism is heavy on my mind."

    As it should be!

    You have such genuine talent, wherever you point that lens, it's going to take you somewhere.