Last weekend I climbed through many, many trailers of salvaged architectural bits and bobs, old stoves, rusted pieces of ceiling tin, faded signs, and corroded hinges to find a treasure in the rain. My sweatshirt was soaked through and my boots were caked with mud as I climbed the rickety steps to the next-to-last trailer in the salvage yard. I squinted into the gloom, took a few half-hearted steps across the sloping metal floor. Nothing. I didn't see a single object that sang to me in the way really special things do when you're on a treasure hunt. I was just about to turn to head back out into the downpour when my magpie eye caught sight of a soft glint in the shadows on a shelf over my head. I couldn't tell what it was, but I threw caution--and my fear of tetanus--to the wind and just reached up to grab whatever it was.
Well, it turned out to be the frame that you see in the photo above. A Victorian beauty, completely intact, with wonderfully worn gilding on its inner edge. That had been the glint I'd seen. I had to make it mine. I cradled it in my arms and went in search of the salvage yard owner. It turns out he had just placed the frame on that shelf earlier in the afternoon. When I say "placed," I don't mean displayed. It was just sort of lying there on the top shelf, nearly out of sight in one trailer out of several that were packed to the gills with jars of springs, boxes of brackets, and bins of rake handles.
When the owner offered to sell me the frame for the little bit of cash I had in my pocket, I knew two things immediately: 1) I will buy more treasures from him, and 2) this frame was going to be important for me, for my photos, for the vision I have of where I want my work to go.
I believe in the stories that beautifully made things can tell us--in the texture of history, the poetry of ordinary objects. That is one of the aspects of still life photography that appeals to me most. This photo is the first in what I hope will be a series of photos featuring my newly found treasure. I believe this old frame will help me dream up countless stories in the weeks and months to come.