I haven't been doing nearly as much shooting this past 12 months as I'd like. But I've still gotten some great experiences with a bunch of different models. As I mentioned in my previous journal, a number of the models I've done lots of shoots with have retired for various reasons. And some new models have stepped up and become part of my regular shooting cadre. Plus two blasts from the past (Lovely Little Creature and Sie ist Idaho) have come out of retirement and I expect to shoot with each of these talented and amazing women within the next 45 days.
One of the models I've been shooting with recently asked me about my photojournalist background. She asked to see some of the work I'd done back in the (gulp) 80's and 90's when I was doing this work. For a while I wasn't sure about digging this up. When I stopped, my wife threw out a lot of my work (for good cause--I had a raging case of PTSD and I tended to pull out photos I'd shot and then obsess about them. Plus it doesn't make good dinner conversation when a guest says "I understand you used to work overseas--do you have any of your work here?" and I'd pull out a photo of a burned body or desecrated corpse or child with kwashiorkor and begin critiquing my choice of lens while the guest was trying to keep their dinner down.) I ended up scanning in some of the photos that remain and showing them to her (the model who showed interest). She asked a lot of the right questions and wasn't ghoulish (you'd be surprised how many people ask "did you ever kill anyone?" or "how many dead bodies did you see?" with a gleam in their eyes). It was really good to be able to address this stuff with her. And I nearly broke down as I was showing her the photos and got to the pix of a couple of good friends who are no longer here (John Hoagland for instance was killed in El Salvador, Hansi Krauss in Mogadishu). I thought I was hiding my emotion well but in a subsequent email exchange with her she noted that I suddenly had a quiver in my voice when I started explaining why I had pictures of 7-9 photographers in this bunch of shots. But it was good to do this--to work through this rather than just keep it all buried deep and try to let sleeping dogs lay.
I find I"m doing a lot more reading about photography--going back and trying to relearn and rethink my craft, to question my approach. Someone recently said within earshot that in some ways being a photojournalist encourages sloppy work--b/c while you have to get "the shot" when you're shooting for a newspaper (or now a website), the sharpness of the photo and the focus isn't going to be that critical b/c it won't show in the display. Not sure some of the top shooters today would agree but a couple of decades ago there was some truth to this claim. So I'm spending time relearning my art (both technically and artistically--I have never felt that I truly have had composition down). I find I feel more comfortable about myself as a photographer--not satisfied but I look back on the journey and feel "mostly good" about the steps along the way that got me here (even if some of the steps involve things I'd never want to repeat--they helped make me who I am). This, I indicated my mood is "sentimental." Plus, I can't help thinking about absent companions--wistfully, and the good times. Not how they died or the sense of loss I had at the time. Ditto with the models who've moved on.