Cedars Neighborhood, Dallas
Last week, after wrapping up an assignment in Tyler, Texas, I decided I would take blue highways on my way home. I had taken my twin-lens reflex camera with me, and hoped to stumble on landscapes, houses, and signs that would yield fun photographs.
The backroads did not disappoint. And after what had been a cold and overcast morning, the sun broke through the clouds in the afternoon, giving me some fun photographs and beautiful light.
I saw the sign below on the opposite side of the road as I drove through Ben Wheeler. I was going to pass on it, but something nagged at me and I doubled back and took a few shots. Shortly after I started making a U-turn to get back on the road, I slammed on the brakes because several things flew off the passenger seat and the camera almost tumbled onto the car floor.
While I tidied up the passenger seat, a woman had pulled over on the other side of the road, and approached my car. I was surprised to see her, and thought, Oh boy, she’s going to ask me why I was taking pictures, someone saw me taking pictures and was weirded out by that.
But no, that was not it. She wanted to know whether I was OK. I lowered the window and after I told her that I was, she said she and her passengers were wondering if they needed to pray for me. I told her that was sweet and reassured her I was OK, and explained that I had stopped because the passenger seat was a mess.
As she walked back to her car she said, “We’re going to pray for you tonight. We all could use that these days, right?” I laughed, told her that was true, again thanked her for her kind and sweet gesture, and we wished each other a Merry Christmas. Then we both went on our way.
Dallas brothers Evan Montoya and Edan Montoya run Taqueria Pedrito, the taco restaurant their father opened more than four decades ago. Their business is among many that have taken a hit as authorities around the country restrict people’s day-to-day activities to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Montoyas said they haven’t let go any of their employees, but don’t know how much longer they can keep serving up their their signature Mexico City-style tacos. Last Saturday afternoon, they made time to chat with me at their eatery on Jefferson Boulevard, one of the few mom-and-pop businesses still open on that usually busy drag.
Looking forward to seeing the exhibit of photographs of national and international celebrities taken by the late Dallas photographer Andy Hanson at SMU Fondren Library. For more on that exhibit, read Rick Brettell’s review in the The Dallas Morning News. I already know the picture of Michael Caine lighting a cigarette with a candle will me among my top ten.
There’s a line in the review that made me think of the Gordon Parks exhibit at Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Brettell says Hanson’s memorable photographs were a result of snapping key moments, his gift of composition, and “wizardry” in the darkroom.
Learning to print photographs well – to deepen the blacks, to give the photograph more depth (or not, I guess) – is hard. I’ve known for years that it’s not something I will do well, because I don’t have a natural understanding of light, have always been intimidated by enlargers and filters, and because I’ve never taken the time to learn to understand any of that.
Two exhibits at Amon Carter Museum of American Art have highlighted photographers that were master printers and in doing so, has given the process the recognition it deserves: the Dave Heath and the Gordon Parks exhibits. Personally, those exhibits, and Mark Birnbaum‘s keen eye and commentary, have made me appreciate the art of printing photographs in a way I had not.
“Bill Cunningham’s on the Street: Five Decades of Iconic Photography” goes on sale Tuesday. This book will soon be among my photography books.
This The New York Times remembrance of the Cunningham and his contributions to street and fashion photography includes colorful stories that reveal traits that made him both a talented artist devoted to doing what he loved and a difficult personality who apparently could drive editors to drink. As someone who has tested the patience of editors to pursue a story, to interview the right source, to not interview a hack, I delight in knowing that.
I also admire his independence; his unwillingness to be an employee after freelancing for several years is something I can relate to.
It’s important, when we are young professionals, to work for other people and big employers. I wish I’d been more aware of that as I started my journalism career, it wouldn’t have taken me this long to allow those experiences to sink in and to learn from them.
Today, over breakfast, I read the recent The New York Times story about fountain pen enthusiasts. The opening scene in the story is at a Lamy boutique in Manhattan, and later, we learn more about the history of the pen maker that for more than half a century has been the cool-kids pen maker.
Cool kids who love pens, anyway.
The Lamy reference brought a smile to my face. Decades before the store opened in SoHo, Guatemala City boasted a Lamy boutique.
I remember going there often with my dad when I was a teenager, if nothing else to look at the pens. He didn’t need a new one, but maybe he did? Mostly, he delighted in looking at well-designed pens. And so did I. (That’s when my appreciation for Lamy pens was born. I still have a broken red Safari ballpoint that I’ve kept for sentimental reasons.)
I love a well-designed pen, whether it’s a ballpoint, a rollerball or a fountain pen. As any pen aficionado will know, you need a variety of pens to satisfy your mood. For instance, you never know when you want to write with a Retro 51 or a Faber-Castell.
My fountain pens range from inexpensive to fancy. My mother gave me one of my father’s DuPont fountain pens after he died. I also have an antique fountain pen I bought from a local reporter at a pen show and a Pelikan.
But, frankly, my favorite are my plastic Safari fountain pens, which are among my everyday pens. I own three: one for black ink, one for blue ink, and one for green ink. Because, you know, you never know when you may need green ink.
Now, I’m going to have to get a TWSBI.