Clam Boogie off Cedar Key, Gulf of Mexico.
Long bicycle rides on empty county roads are wonderful for engaging the mind. This morning, as I rode past Keyshore Aquafarms, the home of Clam Boogie I started thinking about the documentary photo work I was doing centered on the Clam Boogie and its crew. I can trace the work back to the mid 1990’s when I started photographing the net fishermen and the community’s transition to clam farming as net fishing was outlawed. Posting all these claming photos for the last couple of weeks it occurred to me that I was not familiar with any sustained photo documentary work being done about ‘working’ in this country. I may very well be missing some important stuff out there, but all I can come up with is Sebastião Salgado’s heroic work, and that does not deal with the American worker. Are there any W. Eugene Smith’s out there today doing anything even as remotely powerful as his Country Doctor? I guess it shows that I grew up on Smith and David Douglas Duncan. Seriously, we talk a lot about work ethic, and how we value work in this country, but our culture, popular or otherwise seems to be paying very little attention to work and workers. Labor sections in newspapers disappeared decades ago,
Robert Adams, in his book Beauty In Photography quotes Dorothea Lang saying “Oh, I can think of things we don’t photograph,” ….”things we could photograph, and we never touch them.” Of course she and her fellow WPA photographers did photograph work, and she certainly was not thinking about that when she made this statement. However, I think today work and working should perhaps be included in the category of things we don’t photograph, and my question is, why?
…all around. Before I set out for my bicycle ride this morning I checked the WunderMap because it looked a bit dirk outside. Well, the radar showed little thunderstorms all around, marching in from the Gulf. I decided to head out anyhow and to turn back if it started raining. It never did rain on me but I saw signs of it surrounding me, with impressive thunder rolling through the clouds. I decided to leave this photo in color to more clearly show the wonderful layering of the clouds and the range of ‘weather’ out there.
And now for a different look coming back home. I love the subtle green shading of the marsh grasses.
This morning I had another opportunity to go out with the crew of Clam Boogie and photograph as they pulled clam bags for a couple of hours, off Cedar Key, in the Gulf of Mexico. From all I could tell the crew had a good morning getting some great looking clams. In the back of everybody’s mind is the reported presence of Red Tide off the West Coast of Florida. If it made its way into our waters, it would be a disaster. However it looks it is not coming this way!
Yesterday I had to drive to Tallahassee, and as usual I stopped at the Burger King in Perry. There is no Starbucks or other coffee shop on the entire 150 mile route, so this has to do. When my wife was commuting back and forth she would always take a morning photograph here, documenting her trip. I did not want to copy her project so I made this semi landscape photo from the parking lot, including the top of my car and cup of coffee. Even if you are ‘from around here’ I think this is still a pretty exotic landscape.
On my bicycle ride this morning I had just crossed unto the mainland, and was on a short stretch of road I call The Spur. It is obvious to me that it is part of the 150 year old narrow gauge railroad track, the first cross Florida railroad connecting Cedar Key with St. Augustine. You can still see the occasional railroad spike sticking through the pavement. At that time of the morning it is a shady place, one where I slow down and have a good drink of water before heading out onto the shade-less part of the road. This layered cloud formation caught my eye and I got off my bicycle to make this photograph. On the way back I got soaked by a hellacious rainstorm, just as I left the mainland – sure kept me from overheating.