Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Unlikely Subjects

Made in Vermont

At long last, after a protracted tragic-comedy of errors (most of them admittedly mine), here are a few images from my much discussed and anticipated first roll of film as a Vermont artist that took weeks to shoot, and then more weeks to get processed thanks to the scarcity of Vermont resident machines that can still handle traditional black and white film.


Sometimes, I outwit myself. The trouble with looking ahead and making detailed plans and preparations is that the resulting lists and notes are only as good as the mind that remembers to consult them after the fact. Which is to say, months ago, when I still lived in Somerville, I had a cordial and informative email correspondence with the manager of the photography shop in my new Rutland neighborhood, in which he confirmed exactly what kind of film they could and could not process. I even bought some of the right stuff and set the wrong stuff aside. Of course, I forgot this correspondence when I loaded the wrong stuff into my empty camera on arrival, and then I forgot it all over again when I smilingly handed over to the man (whose identity I failed to recognize) this unprocessable roll of film, thus suffering the twin disappointment of knowing 38 beautiful images were now imprisoned in a tiny canister indefinitely and that the person who shot them is an idiot. 


One week later, Brian and I went to Bennington and entrusted the miniature prison to the one shop that could release its captives. The shop is over an hour away by car, but they, not surprisingly, do a brisk affordable mail order business. Today the mailman handed me an envelope containing my processed negatives, and all’s well that ends well. Unless there’s something else I’m forgetting.

 Show Don’t Tell

Last time I wrote about photography in this space, I subjected my readers to a self-indulgent self-interrogation as to what kind of photographer I was, am and will become. In honor of the eternally beneficial injunction “show, don’t tell” here are some of the images that caught my eye in my first weeks living in Vermont surrounded by so much natural beauty I felt so unequal and unwilling to photograph. I think I now have my final answer to cocktail party questions of kind. I am the kind of photographer who prefers unlikely subjects. 

 Room at the Top

But more importantly - how did January end already? Wishing you all the best for a happy healthy February - and beyond! I truly appreciate your kind words and continued support.


  1. Hi Gabriella, I am truly glad those guys were released. What a beautiful outcome. Love the intimacy of these images. GORGEOUS! Yes, January is gone.

  2. Hi Luis! Isn't it strange shooting with film - you can still see the images in your head, and until they get developed they seem to be in this weird limbo, there and not there, as if the creative act is over and done with but the product is still invisible. Then comes the big reveal! I'm glad you liked these so much. More to come in upcoming weeks...

  3. Hi Gabriella!
    I am happy to come here and enjoy these precious photos.
    Read your stories, so let me close to you and your creative process, your convictions, choices, and your happiness, to be a deliciously new phase;
    loving the city and all it offers ...
    Congratulations for you, to be
    literally 'Turning Over a New Leaf'.

    grazie per tutto
    baci carĂ­ssima___

  4. Oh. Wow. More than worth the wait.

    Images to make me think, images that take my breath away with their beauty, and some, like the second shot which I felt was filled with foreboding. Not certain why, but it is such a powerful and sombre image. Your photography requires the participation of the viewer, which is what makes you an artist as well as a photographer. Thank you. Lots.

  5. Exactly, the images are there and not there - the magic and mystery of the latent image! And unlikely subjects, what a wonderful theme. I especially like the last photo - it's as if the dark stones are arranged to communicate in a language that I don't know.

    It sounds as if it would be easier to develop your own b&w :-)

  6. Thank you so much Denise! This blog would not be what it is without the support and sympathetic response of wonderful friends like you. You make me the artist I am!

  7. EC - Thanks for understanding that the stones were having a private conversation - I felt as if I were eavesdropping and they all simply shut up and pretended to be doing something else when I got too close, the way groups of gossiping people do!

    I think you are right about the foreboding of that second shot. Rows of trees can feel both protective and menacing! Also, the distant figure beyond the trees is actually a statue but gives the impression that it might move if you look away - very Twilight Zone!

    All the best to you.

  8. Oops - sorry EC, I meant that first part of the last comment about the stones to go to JMG! Thanks to you both - you are both such sensitive viewers who truly get what I am trying to do with my work, I can't even tell you apart!

  9. You are too funny!!! Comedy of errors which I can totally identify with....but, all is well that ends well and we have a few of the photos to show it all ends well! Yes, you've nailed the cocktail party answer of just what kind of work you do! I do really love the abstraction and ambiguity of the last two photographs especially! Have a great month ahead!

  10. Thanks Patti! It's good I have a sense of humor about such matters - and humility - or I might take all my blunders and stumblings more seriously! One month into 2012, I do feel I have been a little lacking lately in my renowned Sagittarian luck, but in the grand scheme of things I know I am on the right track and that good things will soon emerge, are already emerging, that will make perfect sense and arrive with perfect timing and make all the difference. February will bring answers a lot more substantial than those delivered at cocktail parties! All the best to you.

  11. Oh, these photos are just gorgeous. Wow. The shot of the trees ("Forgotten") was incredible, as was the ivory statue of the woman and the reflection in the glass. Wow. Just mind-blowingly beautiful perspectives with such clear stories.

    I'm so glad you shared them with us. They made my day :)

  12. Hey Phoenix! You've made MY day with your comment! For the record, the statue of the woman is marble - as only Vermont can produce it. It was a cloudy day and the whiteness was still stunningly pure and bright!

    These photos come from a local Carving Studio which is closed for the season - it was really cool to walk among all these huge pieces, some of them just sitting there abandoned among slabs of the uncut stone from which they themselves were brought forth. I felt I had stumbled upon the kind of gathering that only occurs when humans are absent!

  13. Gabriella are all very good, your style is unconfondible, the one with trees (forgotten) is for me really nice, give me the sensation of many forgotten life, great Gabriella

  14. Many thanks Laura - "Forgotten" seems to have made a big impression! I'm very happy you felt its power too.

  15. Hi G/TT That sounded like a me story, but as Patti says, awtew. I really love the one - show don't tell - so many layers. And the distant marble statue in forgotten - perfect!
    See you soon, F

  16. Fiona - yes, very soon!

    And - glad you liked the photos.

  17. Hey G! Well, i'm very happy you were able set those images free. we're blessed to be able to see them. your *unlikely subjects* make for the best compositions. You're inspiring me to shoot with my Bronica 645 again... but yes. finding someone to process the film is getting challenging...lol!!

    keep shooting :))

  18. Hi Gabriella, after reading your former post i was so curious what kind of photo's you will make in your new surroundings. And yes, a true Gabriella series of photographs which i love so must. Yes, you are the photographer of unlikely subjects and that's why your photo's linger. I can look at them and wondering, dreaming, questioning. I'm always amazed by your kind of view and your photo's touches forgotten strings. They come so very close, creeping under the skin to reach the heart.
    So happy that these photo's are released because each and one of them is gorgeous and show another kind of beauty of Vermont than nature in all it's glory. This beauty is even more intense i think, says a lot about the humans who live there just because of the absence of them in the photo's. I could go on praising your art, LOL, but this is a wonderful post with awesome photo's.
    Hugs and kisses!

  19. I Forgot: your errors made me smile, sorry. And ofcourse i wish you a perfect february. The photo with the row of trees (second one?) moves me deeply.

  20. Hi Douglas! Thanks for your comment. Maybe if enough people go retro with these old cameras, shops will start offering the full range of processing again! Good luck to you!

  21. Dear Momo - I am so happy you understand and enjoy my photos! That makes it all worthwhile.

  22. beautiful photos!
    i love the intensity and feel of black and white.

  23. Thank you so much Ann! Black and white really does have a unique feel - such fun to snap a photo and then see what will emerge in that altered state!

  24. I love also the photo "forgotten".
    The title is just right for the tree shadows..

    Hugs from me!!!

  25. Thank you so much Monika! It was one of those moments when the light was just right and I had to get it on film! The irony is that "Forgotten" has proven to be such a memorable image!

  26. That's the beauty of a roll of film - it's like repressed memories (so well captured through the 'forgotten' tree-line).

    Digital is like a double-take. Snap. Huh? Ah, OK.

    But film is like imagination pickled in a box to be unwrapped later. Trick or treat?

    All treats, i see.

  27. At last i found some time to look at your photoos and to read your last posts. Very interesting what moving to Vermont brought with it.
    Ofcourse you are a photographer of unlikely subjects and just as they came to you in the big city i believe they will come to you(and are already doing so, 'room at the top' is just perfect) in your new homeplace.
    Maybe it's only natural that at first you just look at the big landscapes, the sunsets etc. it's a great change after all.
    Isn't it maybe so that one first has to feel at home somewhere and than the details become stronger and stronger. The details in your case, the unlikely things.

    Maybe it's a bit like what i experience here, sitting in my garden for example, enjoying it's beauty but rarely painting that garden or the flowers. Though it somehow has an influence on the things i make, underneath, hidden.

    Looking forward to the work you are going to make and wishing you good times and inspiration.
    Love, x Renilde

  28. Harry you are too kind! But you are also so right about film being a manifestation of the memory process - think, for instance how you can release a dozen photographers on the same scene and end up with a dozen completely different versions of what was there to be captured! I suppose you painters simply carry your film inside.

  29. Dear Renilde - your analogy with the way your garden affects you is perfect! Some things filter into our souls in such a deep way they become part of who we are and how we see the world and do not need literal rendering visually or verbally. I've always been attracted to the details that others pass by, and how the little things hold the seeds of great things if only you give them your attention. Many thanks for your comment.

  30. Dear Gabriella,
    I love shooting with film. The whole process to reveal is enchanted to me.
    The bad part is be waiting if the film was ok, and have the highest possible number of pictures intacts. It makes me nervous, but it´s part of the process too.
    Your photos are clean, trasmiting the magical atmosphere and beauty that came from film.
    Have a nice day!

  31. Many thanks Crissant! I am so happy you understand the magic of film and can see it reflected in my photos! Much love to you.

  32. Hi Gabriella, I just want to say that I really like your photography. Your images are powerful and they stir something inside me. I almost always feel inspired after seeing them.

  33. Hey James, thanks so much! This means a lot coming from you. Have a great week!