Monday, March 04, 2013


Capitan Gap Road, New Mexico

My titling convention has been consistent for a long time. It's simply the place identifier of the location the picture was made. I didn't think it up. As a teenager (~1968) I saw a huge exhibition of Harry Callahan's work at the Hallmark Gallery on 5th Avenue a couple blocks below Central Park (Hallmark cards may be treacle, but they established one of the earliest corporate collections of photography-as-art, long before most museums clued to the idea). Aside from being blown away by the lovely prints—most of my experience of great photography to that point was through reproductions—I was enchanted by the titles: City, State. OK, I'm an English Major. Concision is cool.

A naked woman, a building, or a sky with a cloud, were all titled, "Rochester, New York." I was totally hooked, and have titled my work that way ever since. I lack Harry's Spartan discipline, and often add more words, as in "Apache Drive-in Theater, Globe, New Mexico," but I can never leave out that core of title at the end.

When I asked my GPS unit to tell me where I was, after making this picture on Capitan Gap Road on a diversion from my way to Soccoro, NM, it came up blank. That's sort of interesting. The thing routinely tells me that I'm in a town or municipality that is unincorporated and has no legal existence except as a name but is in the database, but it had no idea what to tell me here. However, it knew exactly where I was and was totally cool on the dirt road and where the curves were. This time-traveled me back to the experience of the Callahan show, because as I was thinking oh no! "my titling convention is being compromised," by lack of information, it came into my head that some of the most famous pictures in that show, the "abstract" grass on the sand dunes of Cape Cod, were, if I remember right all these years later, titled, "Cape Cod." So Harry had to compromise with what you can, in reality, do.

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