What is home? According to the dictionary, it’s the place where one lives permanently. Honestly, I think there is a lot more to that word than meets the eye. When I think of home, I think of the familiar. I think of good memories, people I love, and people I miss.
After having read the book Hold Still by Sally Mann recently, I also watched a great DVD about her work. A friend bought me the DVD Blood Ties, which talked a lot about Mann’s early work, the images of her children that caused a lot of controversy, and her motivation for shooting imagery near and dear to her heart. I thought of home. Most of her images illustrate home to me – a place where her kids were comfortable – clothed or not – and played freely. A safe and secure place where memories were made.
I teach a lot of photography classes, and I can recall several instances where I’ve had students say to me, “…but I don’t go anywhere to get good photographs.” I’ve always told students to push outside of their comfort zones, get out of the familiar and shoot new things. But, then, I also catch myself brainstorming with them and saying, how can you make home interesting? How can you photograph your definition of home, and illustrate the warmth you feel, the people you love, the comfort within that brings you back each evening?
Here’s an image that illustrates home to me. It wasn’t made at my physical house, but at the home of my aunt and uncle in Savannah. Savannah is home. Vicki and Phil are home. This great lawn chair – my uncle’s chair that looks out on his yard – is home. All of these things, including this chair, are memories of home, warmth, comfort and love.
I’m working on a project and had a bit of a dilemma, as I want to shoot this project in a rather experimental way. I need to be close to home, and my darkroom, for my ideas. Immediately I thought, oh how boring…taking photographs around my house rather than on some exotic adventure. But, then I realized, home can be that exotic adventure…it’s all in the way you look at it, it’s all in your perspective. I’ll be glad to share those as well. Soon enough.
For now, here is another interpretation of home. My grandfather – I made this image in college, and just dug it out recently. A good reminder to not throw any of your old images away – you’ll look at them differently in 26 years.