I don’t know what has shifted, but I find myself waking up earlier in the morning. I get up make some coffee, put on Morning Edition on whatever radio station is playing it this early, or I will listen to something that puts me in an emotional mood, like George Winston or Van Morrison. I’ve taken to writing letters, more than painting watercolors. I tried oil painting photographs on some old silver prints, but it didn’t do it for me.
I’ve always had a sense of time. Not in the small picture, I barely know what day or time of day it is, but in the bigger sense, as in what are you doing with your life. When I was in my 20’s and made the decision to be a photographer I absorbed photo books. I would study Arnold Newman’s portraits, and think "when am I going to have a style?" When will someone be able to look at my images and say, "that’s an Evans"? When Patti Smith’s album “Horses” was released in 1976, the image of her on the cover dope slapped me. I thought that’s the kind of portraits I want to make.
I find myself, even now, looking at expressions and not listening as much. It makes me seem a bit airheaded, and often I have to ask someone to repeat themselves. It is a trait I don’t have control over. I seem to feel more about the convictions of what they are saying, more than what they are saying. I listen to the notes and not the song kind of thing.
The other thing is I fall in love with whatever is in front of my camera. I get emotionally invested real fast, looking for those nuances I have observed in conversation that someone else has seen too, and defines the subject in a subtle way. If I capture it, a relative will confirm it. "That’s what my brother looks like.”
There are other factors too. You have to make the subject forget about the camera. This used to take a roll or two. Now that everybody is a photographer, you have to get past their iPhone look. When people didn’t know what they looked like in camera, getting to a meaningful image was quicker. You can see them saying “cheese” in their heads or waiting for the 1-2-3 count.
Everything changes, that’s just the way it is. Who would have thought 20 years ago the tiniest speakers would sound as good as huge PSB analog speakers, we would have phones and the whole world of information with us at all times, or film backs would be replaced by digital sensors. I do not necessarily believe one time is better than the other. It’s great to be alive, have so many good friends, and acquaintances. To take pictures for a living, how sweet is that. Yes, Big Bend has really changed. There are so many visitors now that it is kind of sad. It has been discovered. There is a magazine article every month about our part of the world. Then there is social media, and the need to document and post every little accomplishment one makes. Also when people like Anthony Bourdain and National Geographic’s Badland series exploit the area for their own gain, what do you expect. I love Big Bend. I could not live anywhere else. It is still beautiful and inspiring and gives me creative rejuvenation. Think of this. I have hiked Lost Mine Trail with no one else on the hike, many times, the stellar jays cackling most of the way. Big Bend is still and always will be a place to gain introspection, to challenge your abilities to camp and hike, or as Doug Peacock said, indulge in solitude. Nature is the best place for you to come to terms with who you really are as a human being. For more than 25 years, I had Big Bend all to myself. What a wonderful time I’ve had, and am having. Thanks to all of you.
Outside is the side I take. Happy Full Moon.