Once again I am pleased to present this years ’24 Mobile Photographers Til Christmas’. It is a series that has been run throughout December for the last couple of years and has always been successfully received. In part, it is to celebrate the forthcoming festive season but also to celebrate another year in the timeline of Mobiography.
In the series I ask 24 hand picked mobile photographers to offer an insight into their work, to reflect on their year gone by or plans for the coming year ahead. Each featured photographer is someone who has inspired or supported me in one way or another during the course of the past year. One photographer will be showcased each day until Christmas Eve in a sort of online advent calendar so to speak.
Today’s featured photographer is Meri Walker.
The photo I am most proud of is…
I made this image on a January trip to run some iPhoneography workshops for traditional photographers. It was a cold and sunny afternoon in Odessa, Texas, when I arrived to help the faculty and students at Odessa College begin integrating mobile photography practices and workflows into their world-class photography and art curriculums.
Touring the facility shortly after I arrived, the sights and smells triggered an avalanche of memory and feeling. I hadn’t been hearing Texas accents, smelling Dektol and stop bath, or moving through printmaking labs since I’d moved up to Oregon. And, for the last five years, I’d not picked up any regular cameras since I fell head over heels in love with one iPhone after another.
I left the campus and drove to my hosts’ home filled with conflicting feelings: Nostalgia for Texas, southern accents and Texas food. Pride recalling a lifetime working and teaching in traditional photography and printmaking labs. Impatience and the unpleasant heaviness I’ve always felt in computer labs. A giddy excitement about having been invited to “infect” higher ed faculty and students with serious, deliberate mobile photography/art practices and workflows.
As is my habit when emotions crowd in, I took a walk around my hosts’ neighborhood with my iPhone. I did just what I do at home now in Oregon: I looked without thinking about lenses and gear and responded with different iPhone camera apps to what showed up in front of me. I walked the alleys and snuck into people’s yards, capturing images of things I’d not seen before. One was the strange fruit in this image. (I happened to shoot this one right the way it appears here, using this Hipsta combo. I cleaned it up using iColoramaS.)
Sitting up in bed, later, scanning my camera roll and editing images before going to sleep, I
broke into tears when I saw this image because, for me, it contains the complex of grief and excitement that I feel after a lifetime loving traditional cameras and printmaking processes. It’s a bittersweet journey moving forward as an image-maker working without peripheral lenses or heavy bags of other gear, no longer spending all my time in dark rooms or printmaking studios or tethered to a computer and pointing device.
I’m continually amazed that the price of admission to the childlike freedom and joy I experience making images with my telephone is letting go the great sadness that arises when I remember all that’s gone before. And, I’m not selling my path. I’m just moving ahead, at the edge of reason.