“Way Down Upon The Suwannee River…”

My friend Suwannee Dawn and I are cooperating on a magazine/book using my photographs of her and her text. 050501-27SDcoverSD grew up and now lives and works in the Suwannee River Delta, a place that is still pretty untamed and remote. One time I went to visit her, an alligator was meandering across the path to her house.

(this is a 35mm pinhole photo)

The place is hauntingly beautiful, and her stories about growing up there are from another time. SDpp9-10I am absolutely in love with her recollections and am constantly begging for more. So I was delighted to to get a text with photos from her, showing the ten or so new pages she had written.

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Now I am just anxious to get a hold of them so that I can incorporate them into the layout.

Here is a sample of her writing:

Let me tell you a story about my roots. I come from a small farm so far back in the woods, they had to pump sunshine my way, as they say, but for a small child, it was home. The smell of pine in the air and the tobacco hang­in in the barn drying from all the hard work that comes with it. Being the granddaughter of a farmer and a die-hard fisher­man’s granddaughter my roots run deep learning how to farm the land and the water. Little did I know that my life had just begun when mama showed me the life of sunsets of the eve­ning and where fiddler crabs cross at low tide and the spider monkeys jumping from tree to tree and honeysuckle lingering in the air. It was summer and school was out. I was 10 years old and life here was so color­ful and new. The homestead set under large oaks. We had shade to get over the heat and big orange trees to quench your thirst when night would fall.

Suwannee Dawn at work:

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(above two photos courtesey Suwannee Dawn)
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One Hot Sunday Morning in July….

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A couple of dummy pages from my work-in-progress Digest.

This is the back story:

One hot Sunday morning in July of 2000 I received a call from Nena Calvert, asking if I wanted to go out with her husband Doug and their daughter Heather, and son Josh to photograph them pulling  ‘a couple of bags’ of clams. Nena and I had been the founding officers of the local PTO some fifteen years earlier, and I knew that her father, years before my time in town, had pushed for and unsuccessfully tried to establish oyster farming in the area. Since then Nena and Doug had tirelessly worked to establish clam farming in the area, and they had been the first ones to engineer a successful clam hatchery on Florida’s West Coast. Their efforts were instrumental in assuring the community’s survival after the Florida net-ban passed, by making it possible for the out of work commercial fisherman to transition to clam farming.

I grabbed my camera bag and joined them on the town’s outside boat ramp, where they had launched. Their clam lease was south-east of the key, unlike most other leases which were to the north-west of town, towards the mouth of the Suwannee River. Although it had been five years since the net-ban, and the beginning of clam farming in the area, a lot of the clam farmers had not been financially able to transition to boats and equipment specifically designed to make the harvesting of clams less physically demanding and more streamlined.

This meant that each bag, with its clams, mud, and water in it, weighing right around 100 lbs, usually required two people to lift fully out of the water and heave over the gunwale into the boat, and once in the boat be redistributed to assure a balanced load.

When they finished pulling the ‘couple of bags’, which by my estimate were actually twenty bags, weighing around 2000 lbs, Heather pulled up anchor, and Doug backed the boat trailer down the ramp, pulling boat and clams onto the trailer, and up the ramp. I was watching the operation from the side of the ramp and noticed that the fiberglass hull of the boat was doing some serious flexing and groaning under the load of clams. I had only been standing in the water, photographing, while they did the backbreaking work, yet the heat and humidity of the summer morning had gotten to me, and I was tired.  I jumped into the bed of the little pick-up with Heather, and road back to their house. Once there, they still had to off-load the clams and process them, more strenuous work, probably taking the rest of the afternoon, while I headed back to the air-conditioned comfort of our house and a cool shower.

Posted in artist's book, black & white, black and white, clam farming, clamming, documentary, documentary, film photography, Florida, photo book, photography, Southern Photography, the way we work, waterwomen | 1 Comment

Still rummaging……


I am still rummaging around my pinhole photos because of World Wide Pinhole Day, and since it’s much better than spending time with the news, I’m posting this from a 35mm pinhole negative..
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Posted in art, color photography, pinhole, pinole | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Foul mood this May Day…

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Perhaps I am in a particularly foul mood this May Day. As I work my way through photos and text for my Digest I keep encountering memories of friends who struggled mightily, who were intelligent, who provided valuable and necessary work, and who were beaten down by the system for one reason or another. We must dissuade ourselves, our politicians, and our culture of the notion that if one works hard, has a good education and is of great benefit to our society, one will succeed, and be well rewarded, and if one doesn’t succeed it because one is lazy, and not willing to work hard, or get an education.

“All these adventures – and there were many – ended
with the ban on gill nets.
I stood at the fish house as the last basket of
mullet was hauled up and tried, like the men around me, not to cry.”.

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And so we turned to the only thing we could – clam farming

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One of my ‘works-in-progress’ is editing, sequencing, and laying out a

MagCloud Digest

about clam farming in Cedar Key. Briefly leading in with info about the Net-Ban, which brought all of this about.

One of the early parts of the story starts with some of my photos of Harriet Smith, and the text she gave me to accompany them. In the above photo, Harriet is in her boat, out on the Gulf of Mexico, grading clams she has just retrieved from the Gulf bottom on her lease. These were the Stone Age days of clam farming. The whole process was teetering along, with no organized marketing of clams in place, and with rudimentary equipment and practices that made it practically impossible to earn even a modest living from raising clams.

Here is part of Harriet’s story:

“We turned to the only thing we could – clam farming. Through a job training program, we were trained and each leased four acres of submerged land to grow clams. It was extremely difficult and without any money, almost impossible to go forward like any business. We inched forward, however, some of us taking on partners in situations that would later tum bad. Others, like me, determined to go it alone. The work consisted of counting and measuring baby clams – each about 10 mm across – into a nylon mesh bag that was usually 4′ x 4’or 3′ x 4′. Then, the bags were planted on the bottom of the submerged land leased from the State of Florida. The area where we were growing clams was about 1/4 mile from Cedar Key. The bags were staked down in rows, just like planting corn. The only difference was: you couldn’t see anything — except, of course, in the dead of winter when the water is clear and everyone worried about having their clam bags stolen because they were so easy to see. I called it “farming by Braille” because you could only feel with your feet and your hands what was going on. After about a year or 15 months, you would pull that bag out of the mud, put it on your boat and bring it to shore, put it in your truck and take it to a clam buyer. Of course, you wouldn’t just harvest one bag – anywhere from 5 to 50 bags would be brought in at a time. And by now, they were heavy – heavy with sand and mud and heavy with clams. I worked my clam lease – usually by myself – for several years until I finally realized that I could no longer work on the water.”

Posted in art, Artist's book, artist's book, black & white, black and white, book, cedar key, clam farming, clamming, documentary, documentary, film photography, fl 32625, Florida, photo book, photography, publishing on demand, Southern Photography, the way we work, waterwomen | Leave a comment

Drascombe Dabber

This gallery contains 11 photos.

      This time of the year we have fantastic sailing weather in this part of Florida. Way back in the mid-‘80’s I did a story about that for SAILING Magazine, featuring my Drascombe Dabber and Cathy, who had … Continue reading

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Zine

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Okay, so far it’s taken me three zine dummies to work out all the kinks. That’s a bit much. I am paying for not being organized and more methodical going into this project. But it’s really fun too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Suwannee Dawn Poster

Suwannee Dawn Blue Highways

32692: Suwannee Dawn Blue Highways

Suwannee Dawn driving on the Blue Highways of Dixie County, Fl

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Poster

MACPoster1

32625: MACPoster1

Milinda and Wayland getting ready to pull clams in the Gulf of Mexico, off Cedar Key, FL.

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Poster

Les visions du temps  passé

32625: Les visions du temps passé

Les visions du temps passé -Poster

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Poster

Jeanine Oyster Planting

32625: Jeanine Oyster Planting

Jeanine Oyster Planting – Poster

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Clam Boogie Print

Clam Boogie: Clam Boogie Print

Clam Boogie, off Cedar Key, Gulf of Mexico

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Another Digest

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By christian harkness in 32312

8 pages, published 4/15/2018

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 I made another MagCloud diges [eight  5.25 x 8.25 pages] with some of the photos from my session with MB. I am totally pleased with the quality of the reproduction!

 

Posted in art, Artist's book, artist's book, book, color photography, digital negative, Florida, photo book, photography, portrait, Southern Photography, Tallahassee, zine | Leave a comment

Digest 32625 #1

32625 #1

By christian harkness in 32625

8 pages, published 1/6/2018

32625 #1 Promo
 A eight page black & white digest with full page Cedar Key, Fl photos.

Posted in art, Artist's book, artist's book, black & white, black and white, cedar key, documentary, documentary, fl 32625, Florida, folio, Made with Paper, photo book, photography, Southern Photography | Leave a comment

The Colors of Clamming

The Colors of Clamming Digest

32625: The Colors of Clamming Digest

A brief, full color, eight-page look at clamming operations in the Gulf of Mexico, off Cedar Key, Florida.

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