|a tale of three books...
||[Apr. 4th, 2012|08:02 am]
|||||Alex Clare: Too Close||]|
Years ago I came across a copy of Desert Legends: Re-Storying the Sonoran Borderlands by ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan with photographs by Mark Klett. It was probably in 1994 or 1995 -- my photography was myred in a direction we might call "going nowhere" -- I was doing little still lives and some bad street photography I was, largely, directionless. Desert Legends was like seeing "up" after only knowing about forward, backward, left, and right. It was a collection of essays accompanied by beautiful large format photography of the desert and pretty much right then, I knew what I wanted to do in life. I wanted to take photographs and find words that went with them and told mysterious and beautiful stories.
Fast forward a couple of years and I had a book contract, I was driving across the country working on Armed America, a photo book about people with words and in many ways, I owed it all to stumbling across that book in that bookstore at that moment -- how riddled our lives are with chance....
In fact, while crossing the country, I did a travel diary that was a direct rip-off of Desert Legends and I sent that off to friends & family at home so they could see what I was doing -- by this time I'd long abandoned post-cards as a method of trying to keep people up-to-date on what was happening. I also put a photo of saguaro cacti in the frontispiece of Armed America as a silent homage to the thing that started the thing, I dont' think anybody but me knew that until right now.
And so I had a book come out that did really, really well and I got more or less famous overnight because of it, and people always return my phone calls now and I did a few other things with cool people and the world carried on.
Fast forward a few years and I received an email from a photographer named Brian C. Janes who said, more or less, I was very inspired by Armed America, would you mind if I swiped the concept and made a book about burlesque dancers? -- I'm sure I told him about Mark Klett and how Desert Legends had inspired me and Brian went off and now, a couple of years later, Brian's got a book published and it's filled with pretty pictures and it's beautiful and you can buy it.
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I've got another book coming out and because I have another book coming out Franklin & Marshall College invited me to come talk about it and after I'd talked about it, they said I ought to come back the following week because there was going to be another photographer there who they'd love it if they could introduce me to; would I like to come back and have dinner with this guy named Mark Klett who did lots of books about the American Southwest?
And so it spins around and some day someone's going to tell Brian C. Janes that they were inspired by his book at a young age and it made them go off and do something wonderful and by then it'll be invisible -- the connection between the world as it will be then and a table in a dusty bookstore in Philadelphia in 1994 under a sign that says "NEW, PHOTOGRAPHY" where I picked up a book and saw the world in a different way.
Me & Mark Klett years after the thing that made the things happen for me.
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It really is a wonderfully tangled up old world, isn't it?