Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Over the years I have taken many photographs of footprints. The earliest were taken in the river bottom on Red River.

Teenage years can be difficult and on Red River photographing my own footprints seemed to be a confirmation of my existence. I don’t know why I would have needed that confirmed, but it seems that I did. In the Summer I loved tramping through the cracked caked mud when it was not entirely dried beneath the surface. It would squish up between my toes like breaking through the surface and being absorbed into the earth, being connected. I loved photographing the footprints in the mud. I loved photographing my footprints crossing the paths of other creatures, a coyote, wading birds, a coon. Again it represented a connection. Yeah, I was a little strange—still am.

And of course there is a connection to poetry, especially Longfellow’s Psalm of Life, the third poem that I committed to memory. In it, Longfellow writes about ‘footprints on the sands of time’ so I am not the only person that sees footprints as something of interest, or even as metaphor for life itself. In life we make an impression, but that impression like footprints in sand will soon be faded away. Both are temporary.

As I was walking down to the beach to do the sunrise photographs day before yesterday I noticed this footprint and made a point of coming back to photograph it after the sun was up. The footprint explodes outward in a way that makes me wonder how it took this form and why. For some reason the center seemed to stick to the foot of the person and break away from the earth. That adds unexpectedness like the unexpected consequences of our actions in life. The surface of the sand is rough but where the sand is laid back on the left and the interior of the print itself are beautifully smooth. Then on the other side the ‘splatter’ from the impact of the foot is terribly broken. The toe prints seem to claw into the surface of the sand.

I am not entirely sure that I understand what it is that I see in this footprint. I do now that like many of my photographs of footprints they are not simply photographs of footprints but they are metaphors for various aspects of life. I am not yet sure what the metaphor is in this particular photographs. Whatever it is it seemed important enough that morning to go back to take the photograph. It still seems important. 

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