Thursday, September 22, 2016

Where I've Been and How I Got to Where I Needed to Be

This was going to be one of those apologetic posts about how I've been missing from this space for so unforgivably long and why. Make no mistake, life has been far from noteworthy these past two months since my last posting, and having recently re-read that piece of writing, I can see that my mood and fortunes have only improved slightly, so consider yourselves (whoever you may be) spared.

And while I'm at it, sparing you, my remaining faithful and shamefully neglected readers, I'm going to spare myself as well. Honestly I can't even recall what got me through the summer that ended yesterday, except to say that I'm here, in a new season, with the year now three quarters done, and aside from having moved into a lovely new adult-sized apartment, there's not much to tell about, or to show for it.

Except for these images. Because that's what I've mostly been doing. Twice a week, the two times I actually have to show up somewhere and do something every week, something I actually enjoy doing, I have been visiting the Vermont Farmers Market in Depot Park in beautiful downtown Rutland to shoot photos for promotional purposes on social and other media.

What began in May as a kind of community service and creative challenge way out of my comfort zone, being perilously close to doing photography as a JOB, as opposed to an unfettered expression of my whimsical spirit, accountable to no one, not even myself, soon became the thing to which I most look forward every week, and eventually, my first regular paid work in years, and maybe even the first paid work I have ever loved doing.

Turns out, fruits and vegetables are an amazing bottomless well of inspiration in terms of subject matter. I started out intending to dutifully document the variety of available produce and products at the market, and the people providing them, as close as I will ever get to commercial photography. What happened was the sort of "art as work, work as art" equation I have only ever dreamed was possible.

The biggest surprise was how easy it was. I would stroll through the rows of tents enjoying chatting with my fellow marketeers and snapping frame after frame of compositions that pretty much composed themselves. All the artistry I feared I would have to set aside in the interest of job requirements was not only available but impossible to ignore.

I even started taking decent photographs of people. Yes, people. After weeks of circulating the market with my camera as a weekly presence, either my subjects lost their wariness, or I did, or both. I have now not only built a vast archive of images of our vendors and their displays, but I no longer need to squirm and declare "anything but people" when asked what sort of photography I do.

It's been fun. It's been enriching. It's been horribly self-absorbed and also served a purpose outside myself. People, even the ones I take photos of, seem to like the images I post on Facebook and Instagram, and I hope this makes them feel as warm and fuzzy about the market as I do and want to come experience in person the feast for the eyes I lovingly capture every week. Everybody wins.

And now somehow, suddenly, it's autumn. I'm taking photos of pumpkins instead of berries. I'm doing so in a plaid flannel shirt instead of a sundress. And soon, the market will move to its indoor winter location and I will take my place behind my own table for the six months of the year that I am not only the documenter of all things VFM, but a regular vendor.

And the way things sometimes magically come together when you aren't meddling in the process, in addition to the crocheted accessories I will once again be selling come November - stay tuned for future posts on how that's going - I will also be selling prints of some of the photographs I have been taking in the off season, some of which you see collected here. So, far from doing nothing worthwhile, and continuing to go nowhere, I guess I have been doing exactly what I needed to be doing, and got exactly where I needed to be.

Happy Autumn, all.