This was going to be the Perfect Autumn. The Center for Civil War Photography planned their annual seminar to be at Gettysburg, with the main attraction being the reclusive William Frassanito, the dean of Civil War photography analysts. A former photo intelligence officer during the Vietnam war, Frassanito was the first to apply the techniques he learned to pictures shot by Brady, Gardner and others, exploding dozens of myths.
Then, the Leica Historical Society of America scheduled an epic trip to the heart of Leica: Wetzlar, Germany. Factory tours, seminars and the general atmosphere of the town where the Leica was born in the 1920s and is still assembled today, just one year after the premiere of the game-changing digital M9.
Naturally, both would be of great interest to me, just as a general principle, but it was more than that. I think I've mentioned Camera Aperta. It's a Grand Idea -- the equivalent, for me, of the Great American Novel that every journalist is famously working on. However, it's not a novel; it's nonfiction, a work in the first-person tradition of Tom Wolfe, or newer works by Michael Pollan or Jennifer 8 Lee. It's a history of photojournalism by way of the equipment and my personal experience with it. So, for example, when the Leica rangefinder came into use in the 1940s and (particularly) the 1950s, how did that affect news photography, and its style and content, and thus news in general? Where did it come from, and why do people still use it? Why was it important? I plan to deal with these kinds of questions, but in a firsthand, conversational sort of way, a way the makes it more like the chats I have with people who stop me at work and ask advice, or are curious about photography.
But now, they're over ... at least for me. LHSA's Carl Merkin is posting his pictures from the German trip on Facebook (a particularly agonizing one was a view of happy fellow travelers gathered around a table of tall glasses of lager in a tiny cafe, a view of the Teutonic village through the neighboring window), and I await the updates from the CCWP. The seminar doesn't start for a couple of days, but it has been sold out for weeks.
But, as you may know, there's no money (let alone time), so no conference. On top of that, I thought I had the perfect situation when NewsTilt arrived. I would be able to write the chapters and sub-chapters, send them out as articles, and thus provide some income as I ground away at the book. Or at least have an outlet. Not so much, after all.
So, the Perfect Autumn evolves into a disappointment, a reminder that I can't just blow through the drudgery of common life, that a great idea isn't enough -- logistics are required -- that just because I've been able to do stuff, I can't always do whatever I want. A little humility is in order. And a great idea deserves a little bit of effort.
I'm not letting go; someday you'll be seeing Camera Aperta, even if it's a soiled, wrinkled typesheet I force into your hand. But, I guess, it's gonna' take some work...
"I will turn their mourning into joy.
I will console and gladden them after their sorrows ...
and my people shall be filled with my blessings,
says the Lord."
- Jeremiah 31:13-14