Better In the In-Between

Better In the In-Between

Big transitions in my life the past year or so: the birth of my daughter, a new job, getting ready to sell our house and move into the city.

So it is with the seasons as well. The temperatures here in Michigan are dropping steadily, the leaves are changing, pumpkins are popping up at roadside stands. Autumn is in the air.

Much like last year, I’m trying to stay on top of all the transitions and stay involved with creative projects. It’s tough. And I’m not working on anything specific now, but I have some ideas and plans brewing.

Here’s to the in-between.

House Shopping

House Shopping

My wife and I are house shopping. It’s been a big project, getting our house ready for sale while simultaneously looking at other homes.

One thing I love about our current house is the light. Lots of windows, east/west facing, plenty of natural light – it’s spoiled me over the years.

Now, as we house hunt, light is a big decider for me. Does the space feel open? Are there a decent number of windows? Which way does the sunlight come in? How will that change over the day, or the seasons?

The place above caught my eye right away. When we walked in, the light coming into the dining room made me take notice. That’s light I could get used to.

Don’t Complain; Make

Canvas of Our Lives

Jörg M. Colberg at Conscientious Photo Magazine:

If you start thinking about it — forgetting about all those oh-so serious problems for a while, photobooks really are incredibly versatile and flexible beasts. They come in many shapes, sizes, editions, … Now, given that nobody is legally required to make a photobook, and given that if you wanted to publish a photobook you could literally do anything you want (as long as it fits the work), isn’t that the best possible situation to be in? Shouldn’t that trigger exactly that creative urge that photographers usually profess to be interested in?

Sky’s the limit.

And so what if no one buys it? The creative exercise is good for you.


With Affinity, Haken took the Stranger Things + Tron vibe and turned it into a prog concept album.

My favorite song off the album, “Earthrise,” really is a lovely piece – especially that opening. The piano riff that starts at 0:30 has been in my head for months.

The Academic Life

The Academic Life

A recent episode of Roderick on the Line had me thinking about our aptitudes, and whether our vocation takes advantage of our particular talents.

For me, it’s all books and learning and research and art. If I have a life made up of some combination of those things, along with working with talented students to make things, then I’m satisfied. It’s not like I’m saving the world, but I am, in an indirect way, helping to make it a better place.

High education has been my calling since I was in college. I knew then what I wanted to do, and here I am doing it.

As I took a walk around the University of Michigan’s campus yesterday afternoon—sky heavy with rain clouds, early autumn leaves falling, EarthFest fair going on in the Diag, students heading to class—it hit me, as it always does, that I’m working my dream job. I value education, I value the search for truth, and so to lend my expertise to that effort makes me feel like I’m in the right place.

Our Life’s Story

Our Life's Story

This past weekend, I lost a long-time friend and college fraternity brother.

To say it was unexpected is to put it ridiculously lightly. Dan was my age, in improving physical condition, and three weeks away from getting married. To boot, he was a smart, friendly, ethical guy – a real model for what a decent human being could be.

At his visitation, I was alone. I didn’t know anyone there, and I met his family for the first time. As I waited in the receiving line, a slideshow of images cycled through. Here was Dan’s life on display: grinning with his nieces, giving a thumbs up at a Detroit Red Wings game, big family photos, childhood times in costume or on a rocking horse. Standing there, waiting, I saw some of Dan’s life that I hadn’t seen before, and it made me feel even closer to my friend.

That’s the power of a snapshot. It shows all those important (and, often, unimportant but enlightening) moments in between the big milestones in life. Dan’s college graduation photos were in there, sure, as were his elementary school portraits. But it was the slice-of-life stuff that hit me the hardest. The snapshots showed Dan living his life. The showed him being himself.

It’s obvious, right? That’s the power of photography and everyone knows it.

What it showed me, though, was the power of the non-artistic, spur-of-the-moment, no-one-is-going-to-see-this photograph. When we tell the stories of ourselves, it’s those kinds of photos that help people really get to know us. They show us being our non-idealized selves.

I was sad to lay my college friend to rest. I was happy to see, through his snapshots, that he led such a full and meaningful life.

Putting the Camera Down

Put The Camera Down

Jonathan Blaustein at A Photo Editor:

It it ever a good idea to just put the camera down and watch?

Indeed, and a good question.

Leaving Yellowstone National Park many years ago, I spotted this perfect conical mountain ringed by a storm cloud. It looked like a scene from Lord of the Rings – all chaos and fury and fire, the peak lit up by lightning. Here was Mount Doom, and it was angry.

Unlike Blaustein, I had my camera handy. But I didn’t use it. “No, this one’s just for you,”I told myself. “Not for anyone else.”

Yes, putting the camera down sometimes is a good idea.

I kept that moment private, with no picture record to prove it happened. It’s as vivid in my memory, 10 years later, as anything else on that cross-country road trip.

(via Jeffery Saddoris)