A couple of years ago I got email from a reader telling me she’d enjoyed Stay, and how it resonated for her. I wrote back and said thank you, and explained how much it means to me that a reader who doesn’t normally write fan letters would take the time to sit down and look me up and send me email showing how and why, exactly, she liked my work.
I don’t remember what else I said, but I know I meant every word. The reason I have a website, the reason I run this blog, the reason I do readings and (occasionally) attend conferences and conventions is to meet the people who make my life possible–who buy the books; to thank them, to give something back if I can. And also because it’s, y’know, a blast. And I get to meet interesting people. (Also some exceedingly weird ones, but we’ll skip over that for now.)
So that’s how I met Jennifer Durham. Over the months I learnt that she is a commercial photographer and that she was beginning to dip her toe back into the scary notion of photography as art. Art, she was smart enough to know, is risky; creating art, being willing to open oneself to the world, changes you forever. Yes, I said, and Fuck it, do it anyway. (I always say Do it. People on their deathbeds rarely whisper, Oh, I wish I hadn’t done this or that. But they do say, Oh, I wish I had done thus and such.) And so Jennifer did, she took the leap, and sent me some of the photos, and I was absolutely blown away.
Here are some of the ones I like particularly today.
I see in this a study in light and texture, and a story waiting to unfurl just around the corner. It makes me want to write a novel, just so I can have this on the cover. This is currently Print of the Month on Jennifer’s website–at an amazing price.
Again, there’s a story here, possibly a moody screenplay. I can hear the audio: low tones off-screen, the wet scrunch of sand underfoot, the sound of gravelly sand gritting and sliding on a shovel blade. Somebody’s world is changing…
Aud would like this. It feels like a photograph a hunter who no longer kills might take: a moment stolen from the unsuspecting.
This reminds me of how I see in writer mode: a willful focus on something to hand, and a simultaneous refusal to ignore the context. It also feels very Japanese. All it needs is a touch of cherry blossom.
I’m delighted to admit that Kelley and I own print #1 of this photograph. It hangs in our living room. When I look at it–which I do often–I feel limitless.
I think Jennifer Durham’s work manages to do what I aim for every time I write fiction: epic scope with a delicate attention to detail. It’s pretty, too, of course, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about scale: the immensity of the world, its boldness, its fragility, and our place in it. It’s also calm, and transparent, and delighted by light–light in her work is liquid, always on the move. In that sense, it reminds me of April Gornik’s paintings. (See particularly The Wave and Light Spill. And Kelley’s post about Gornik’s work.)
Jennifer also took some incredible photos of the protest in Los Angeles after the passage of Proposition 8. (See Stand on a Question of Love.) She keeps a blog–daily snapshots and music to go with them–Light Coming Back here.
14 thoughts on “light coming back: Jennifer Durham”
Nicola, I enjoy the pictures you post and hope you continue. The changing, familiar scenery around us informs everything we think and feel. Things are in a new light everyday . . .
Thanks. The natural world is beautiful, but it’s the photographer’s focus and perspective that makes it art.It’s the spark in the taker’s eye that frames the picture.
The first two you put up, are the ones I told my partner to look at, along with the others, but those are the ones I look at and say, if only, those would be on my wall, which is saying a lot, because I have never desired to have anything on my walls…my bedroom has nothing, but if I could open my eyes up to those two photos everyday, wow, just, wow. >Jennifer Durham, amazing!>I’m glad you blogged this!>Jen G
jen, it’s that blue-and-gold thing, gets people every time :) But these pix are just fucking *luscious*.
Wow, thank you all. I hardly know what to say to this, It means a lot to me that you appreciate my work.>>I feel very lucky to have found my way here. And grateful to you Nicola for making it so that could happen. If my photography had a small fraction of the impact on anyone that your and Kelley’s books have had on me, I would be happy.
jennifer, it will. You’re just getting started. Over on my MySpace blog, where I mirrored this post, a friend of mine, who has been in photography his whole life, said, “Excellent…just excellent.” Some of these photos go beyond Good, beyond Very Good. I can’t wait to see where you go next.
nicola, great selection. :-) I also like the story of how you all met. I’d been wondering about that, it seems you and Jennifer go back longer than just a couple of years. >>Jennifer, even E, who thinks walls should be monuments to the god of white paint (and the occasional Elvis Presley) would like to see some of your images on ours every day.
Nicola, you are such a positive force in the world. >>Jennifer, I’m saving up money to buy one of your prints. You have such a magnificent eye. You also give me hope that I may be able to do what you’ve done.>>Thank you both for being visible. I’ll soon post some photos of our own blizzard in Maine.
karina, strike while the E iron is hot…>>janine, I’ll look forward to your pix
Ok, I enjoy a little Elvis now and then, but there will never be velvet portraits of him on my walls. >>Thank you. Everybody.>>Janine I’ve already been waiting to see what the shed is looking like these days.
So, I was thinking about this and wishing anyone who wanted one could have a print. To help out some with that I’ve made a discount coupon for my gallery/store area for anyone who reads this here. It’s 20% off the price of anything except the print of the month which is already discounted. It’s good for one use per person until the end of April. Just enter this code during checkout: <>AN-20<>.>>There are the smaller prints available on the blog of course, and they are not included in this.>>Hope that helps.
Jennifer, not everyone is so generous. Maybe someone will give me money for christmas so I can buy one sooner rather than later.
Crossing my fingers that you sell everything you want to sell, except the one I want before April! I’m saving! thank you Jennifer. >Jen G
Wow! Thanks for this posting. I just went to Jennifer’s website and saw some pieces that were incredible.>>I’m kinda late getting to these postings because I’ve been away and getting to the internet wasn’t an option. I’m really glad I decided to go through previous postings.>>duff
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