To mark my sixty second birthday, the day I am at last eligible for a social security pension, three years from being eligible for Medicare, I thought I would ponder some words of wisdom. My friend Bruce in Arizona (below, when he lived on a boat in Key West), turned me on to a blog by a man in Philadelphia called Don Springer, who writes Tales of the Streets and illustrates it with his black and white pictures of street photography from his hometown.
All I know about Springer is what he writes about in his periodic essays, his time in Vietnam, his tremors that require him to use a stabilized camera (technology! Yay!)and the lessons he gives to street photographers. His discussions about photography are grounded in common sense and decency which I find thoroughly refreshing especially after I came across the usual crowd of nasty navel gazing poseurs on of all things photography forums -DPR leads the pack for cruel vociferous gear heads with nary a photo between them. Springer by contrast posts his pictures and discusses the meaning of life much as one might around a coffee shop table. Very refreshing. Check it out even if photography means nothing to you:
After my accident last year I was determined to get back on my scooter and ride again and that I have done. However larger issues loomed and my life has taken a turn in a new direction. Motorcycling all my life has been a solitary pursuit, and for fifty years I have ridden alone all over the place. However my future is charted in a direction that at the moment doe snot allow for solo travel. Were my wife the stay at home type that would be one thing but she wants to be involved in all the risk taking and excessive travel I have mapped out for us. And in light of this can do attitude a motorcycle is not going to be the vehicle of choice. Not with a sidecar, not with a tent trailer, not as a solo ride. It will be a van to accommodate the three of us in comfort because we are old and grumpy and don't like to sleep on the ground.
However this fine plan has cut me adrift from my solo riding hobby a bit. With limited time off I am bound to be more inclined to travel together in the van than take off by myself on the Burgman. We will have two years to get the van just right for the off and when I'm not working overtime to pay for it we will be testing it in various configurations and locations to simulate where we plan to travel and camp as we go. So I need some other hobby to occupy my fertile mind. I used to enjoy taking photographs in the days of film but terrible automated processing combined with high expense and too many shoeboxes filled with useless prints pushed me away from recording my life in pictures. I don't have many left from those days in mid 1980s when I wasn't quite 30. I always did like night work. I cleaned movie theaters for a while to get free tickets in the age before videos.
I used to go out at night with my Minolta and take pictures much as I do now of Key West, fighting the cold on the foggy California streets on my way home. Photography only came back into my life when I reluctantly bought an Android phone to replace a outdated flip phone. That phone soon taught me the fun of taking and sending pictures as electronic postcards. And the phone slowly convinced me to get a camera even as digital picture quality improved and put the last nail in the coffin of popular film photography. Nowadays I very much appreciate the ease of taking and seeing pictures instantly while storing them in Google's cloud and enjoying them whenever I want. Plus I get to select some of them to post online at Instagram Flickr Facebook and here as well of course. Once you have the equipment photography costs nothing and as I have discovered there is a ton to learn about digital picture taking that wasn't a possibility with film. Despite the obsessions of "serious photographers" telephone photography isn't all bad; my wife took this phone picture on my last visit to Santa Cruz about five years ago:
When Springer talks about photography as hot sauce all he means is that you spice your photography and thus your life the ways that tastes good for you. And life without hot sauce, whatever that may be for you, is flavorless and flat. It's really quite simple yet we all of us find it so hard to live like we understand this simple principle. The way he puts it males me embarrassed to have had such difficulty with my hot sauce:
Simple right? Well, that's my project I guess in my sixties. I have heard people talking about it being too late at a certain point but I am more convinced than ever that it's the breath that counts...as long as you are breathing it's not too late. Time there for to mix up a fresh batch of hot sauce. Happy Birthday To Me.