Once again, I’m faced with a chapter of my life closing and wondering what to do next.
In a couple of weeks, Jeanne and I will be back on the plane headed to Paris. We’ll teach some workshops, maybe do some portraits, and then close the exhibition. I’m looking forward to all of that, but I’m also thinking about what’s next.
In 2010, I started working in the Daguerreotype process. My friend, and photographer, Rene Smets (Belgium), built all of my equipment. My goal was to make a body of work for the 2014 anniversary (the 175th, also known as the Terquasquicentennial) of the Daguerreotype; 1839 – 2014. I've been thinking that this is something that would be nice to "highlight" that year. However, I'm not sure that's where my heart and head should be.
This is still a bit of a struggle for me. I’m finding myself over analyzing all of my motives, thoughts, and ideas. In other words, I’m not sure if I care enough about the anniversary to make a body of work. I would prefer that I make a body of work and it just so happens to be an anniversary of the process that I’m working in. There's far too many people making photographs for the wrong reasons. This is creating a lot of "noise" in the historic photographic world, at least it is for me. I'm not sure we need anymore parties about the processes, we need people making serious work.
The other part of the problem is that Paris seems to be more interested in Joseph Nicéphore Niépce than in Daguerre. And if you see anything about Daguerre in Paris it’s usually something to do with his diorama work. I’m not saying the work wouldn’t be received well, but I have my doubts about how effective it would be in raising awareness for the anniversary. Just typing this I’m realizing that I shouldn’t be making work based on that event.
I’m making Daguerreotypes in my studio in Denver now. I just (in the last week) got the go ahead for Hg levels in my darkroom. I had a mercury vapor test run for a couple of days and the results say that I’m way below the OSHA and NIOSH permissible exposure level. I’ve spent a lot of time and money getting setup here to do this. It’s on my docket to make happen, but I need some quiet, uninterrupted time to think about what I want to do and WHY! If I feel good (and authentic) about my conclusion, I think I’ll have a Daguerreotype show in 2014. If not, I might retire.