C’est du Passe II

Interpreted as a lith print.

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The Butterfly Princess:

I have decided to return to making blog entries, and since my vision took a hit recently I am aiming fo r not taking me and my work too seriously, so my working concept for this work in progress will be ‘Unserious!” here we go.

I am going to throw a couple of photos up and plan on talking about them later! Okay?


Is a new series of collections I am contemplating. I know I have a zillion unfinished projects floating around out there already!

I need something though with that concept. MoMA and Steidel are not going to come running, so nothing to lose.

Decades ago I took an intro PhotoShop course at the University. Not even the prof knew how PS worked. It took me half a semester of trial and error to print out a ‘photo’ on our class printer.

Back home I had taken to drinking the occasional cup of Jiffy coffee on the bench in front of Claire’s cool gallery. She had a BFA, did impressive art had modeled for Jerry Uelsman, and at that moment was writing an illustrated fable called ‘The Butterfly Princess.I n addition to her illustrations we decided to see if we could create a series of photos, and with the help of PS conjure up a Butterfly Princess character using Claire as a model.

Unfortunately, we did not get very far. She moved, and my film and PS attempts died in their infancy. I do not have a single PS file left, and just a few ‘unserious’ negs, using a distortion filter.In other words, perfect material for starting this series. It might work as a Stab-Bound book, an ‘unbound book or a MagCloud Digest.

A little over a couple of weeks ago my vision took an unexpected hit. Not sure where it’s going, but it has improved to the point where I can do a bit of design and photo work on my desktop computer, another reason to get going and be a bit less serious and demanding.

The first photo is the cover photo for the first chapter’


Suwannee River Delta


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Another Look At The Florida Net-Ban

Editing, sequencing and generally going through my photo archives to put together a coherent story about Cedar Key’s net-fishing and clam farming history that I photographed I had to re-examine the 1995 Florida Net-Ban. A generation has grown up since the amendment to the Florida Constitution passed and shut down small scale, inshore net fishing throughout the State.
Although I lived in Cedar Key while the Net-Ban passed I never fully grasped the facts surrounding it. It is now clear that the information I received through newspapers and other established news outlets was badly tainted, and since the internet was still in its toddler stage not much information came that way. Looking backward I think this is pretty much what happened:

It had never realized that there was a connection between the Florida Net-Ban, which put inshore Florida fisherman out of business in 1995, and the deindustrialization of America.
However, working my way through the net-ban history I realize that the net ban, which I always assumed came about through pressure by environmentalists was actually pushed and engineered by a pro-net-ban lobby consisting of sport fishermen, their allies, and supporters such as the Florida Conservation Association, and Save Our Sealife, [SOS] with its volunteer force of 13,000 and budget of $1.2 million The outboard motor industry, tourism industry, and developers, were also on the side of sport-fishermen, as well as the Legislature and the Governor’s office. The main driving force behind the movement was the Florida Sportsman Magazine and its publisher. Many of the tactics used by net-ban supporters were propaganda, aimed at the commercial fisherman, degrading them as “white booted thugs, raping the environment.” (White booted refers to the short white boots the fishermen, and anybody working on the water, preferred to wear to keep their feet dry.) Also, the Florida press was generally pro-net ban with the Florida Sportsman Magazine exercising significant influence over five major Florida papers, among them the Tampa Tribune, Tallahassee Democrat, and Gainesville Sun, by having paid employees of the magazine write for these papers.
The conflict of interest between sports fishermen and commercial fishermen along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States started heating up in the 1980s. In a small way, we saw early signs of that in Cedar Key when we went to our local hangout, Richburg’s Café, for morning coffee. It had a table reserved for ‘Michiganders’ who had moved to Cedar Key or were Snowbirds, living here part-time. I could not figure out why all these people from Michigan were in town. What I did not realize was that Michigan was part of the area that was beginning to be referred to as the Rust Belt because it was experiencing catastrophic job losses as a result of the offshoring of its industrial jobs. So there was a direct link between the net-ban, the loss of American jobs, and the outwards migration of workers from industrial cities who settled in Southern coastal areas and took up sports fishing as a hobby. This in-migration into Florida was welcomed by the growing service industry, developers and politicians, and it did not take long to turn Florida into the sports fishing capital of the world, totally crushing the few commercial, inshore net fishermen who were perceived as being a threat to the sportfishing industry, and the environment. This perception ignored the damage caused by the explosive population growth bringing about the destruction of much of Florida’s environment, including fish habitat along the coast. In a classical ‘smoke and mirrors’ move, attention from this environmental disaster was successfully diverted to the small number of “white booted thugs, raping the environment” with the passage of Amendment 3 to the Florida Constitution, the Net-Ban, in 1994.

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Who, if I cried….


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Photo Digest


These are binders with my Cedar Key negatives, going back to before the Florida net-ban which took effect in 1995 wiping out the livelihood generations of Cedar Key fishermen had followed. Its effect was similar to what was happening all across America with the loss of industrial jobs and whole occupations due to the movement of jobs to cheaper labor markets and automation. In Cedar Key and other fishing communities in Florida, the loss of commercial gill-net fishing was somewhat offset by the introduction of clam farming.

When clam farming was first introduced in Cedar Key, my friend Harriet Smith, invited me to go out and photograph her working on her clam lease in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico, surrounding the keys. Over time I would get opportunities to go out with others and do lots of photography. For a long time, I did not feel that I wanted to tell a story with my photos, as much as just come up with good photos of the people I was photographing and show them, through the photos, how strong, great and attractive they were.

Now that we are no longer in Cedar Key, but in Tallahassee, I can’t just grab my camera and go out on a boat with a friend. I totally missed being able to do that, but at the same time realized that perhaps it was time to give some serious consideration to organizing and editing the photos and material I have and produce a ‘book’ that pulls much of it together.

Over the years I have had many false starts trying to accomplish that. I finally thought I had settled on the MagCloud 11”x17” Tabloid format when I realized that it allowed only for a very limited number of pages, which would not accommodate the project I had in mind. Of course, I could break the material down into several volumes, but that did not appeal to me, so I made a radical shift in seizing and opted to go with the 8.25”x5.25”  Digest Landscape format.

You are invited to follow along and check out my progress. I am going to post the dummy layout as I create it. So, a couple of pages, a spread, will be posted as I put them together in InDesign. I am a total InDesign dummy and only try to learn what I need to lay out the book. What I post will not necessarily be the final sequence and photo edit, so bear with me. Your comments, suggestions and critique are, of course, invited and will be welcomed.

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Some with no drawers at all….





This is my favorite paragraph from the National Geographic’s 

piece on Cedar Key:

“I sat down to lunch with a young Virginia artist, Dan Moncure, and a bearded veteran author, George Walton. “ I came here for a weekend three years ago, “George said. “and I have not found the time to leave.” Dan came down for the arts festival that Bessie organized, then decided to come back.

What magic does this old shell heap of a town have?

I fell in love with this crazy place when I saw the chain and padlock they use to lock up the front door of the bank.” Bessie said. “Last weekend,” George said, “there were eight Ph.D.’s in this hotel, escaping. Eight people from the top drawer.’ “Some with no drawers at all,” said Bessie”

Bessie and her husband, Loyal “Gibby” bought the hotel in 1946 it was an old, dirty and dilapidated building. They transformed the hotel and it became a secret hideaway for famous people from Pearl Buck, Vaughan Monroe, and Tennessee Ernie Ford, to Richard@ Boone, of the television series Paladin. In 1973 Bessie, by now widowed, sold the hotel and perished in a house fire in 1975. The mystique of the hotel continued to attract artists and performers of the era, the best known of whom was Florida songwriter and balladeer Jimmy Buffett, who visited the Island Hotel often during these years. In his song Incomunicado, he pays tribute to Cedar Key and the mystery writer John D. McDonald:

Travis McGee’s still in Cedar Key

That’s what John McDonald said



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Photobooks & Shards of Memory

ckpanoig“….From Gainesville a road runs straight and quiet, southwest towards the Gulf of Mexico. At the end, it opens upon a wide, shining marsh and mud flats. Beyond four bridges the tin roofs of the hamlet of Cedar Key gleam in the sun. Cedar Key has the look of having endured, at peace with waves and sky; a place that does not mind a little sand in its shoes, or the paint flecking off, because that means one more season survived.

Some of its weathered buildings are boarded up, but the 115-year old Island Hotel still offers the shade of its balcony and its unique hospitality to the passing stranger.

When I entered, a woman named Maggie was curled up on the sofa in the lobby. When I told her that I was a wandering journalist, she said, “Please go away. Do not write about Cedar Key.

I am sorry Maggie, but here goes….”

National Geographic
page 619 – vol.144 No 5
November, 1973


Andrew Molitor over at http://photothunk.blogspot.com/ usually posts thought-provoking pieces about the whole concept of photography. Recently he upended my editing and sequencing concept about the photo book that I am working on by posting two essays.

The first essay is titled Storytelling into Memory, from which I copied the below paragraph. He implies, tongue in cheek, that he is able to write these insightful essays because he, and one of his sources, are ‘intelligent, erudite, and devilishly handsome.’ Since I am none of these, you will have to root around in Andrew’s posts to see if you find them of interest and useful in helping you look at your own work.

‘When I think of some memory-worthy thing, let us say a job, it manifests as a singular thing, I don’t visualize it particularly, but we might imagine it as a box. A box labeled, notionally, as “My Job at X.” If I touch the box, shards arise. A person, an event, a project, an office building. Each of these shards is atemporal. I do not perceive them as a passage of time, but again as a singular object, a box if you will. Touching any one of them causes another cloud of shards of memory to arise. Nothing in here resembles, even slightly, a film strip.”

The current one, titled The Opposing Commentator further helps me clarify the purpose and meaning of my own work.

“The point here, if there is one, is something like this: Art is not merely the thing itself. It is the thing and its interconnections to the world in which it finds itself. Art is a cultural construct, and as such, gathers much of its meaning from the culture in which it exists. Art, also, is a part of the culture. As such, it carries its own meaning to the culture in which it exists.”

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“Gallery In A Box”




Here are a couple of 4×6 prints for my  Gallery In A Box with the

Every Angel Is Terrifying

portfolio. The prints are from original film scans. I plan on having the Box up on my

Big Cartel site

one of these days. If you are interested, please let me know.

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Do something to make sure a lot of folks see it, I’d say.

DIVINE, stylish!

                                                             Diane Kaye
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“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.


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:

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


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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Foul mood this May Day…



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


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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