Thursday, April 2, 2015

Beach Shoes or is it Beached Shoes

Most photographers go to the beach to shoot seascapes, boats, sunrises/sunsets. I don’t. That doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally shoot those thing, I do. I know that I have written this so often that most who read this blog can name my beach themes in their sleep: The Edge, Dead Creatures, Footprints and Abandoned Clothing. To me these themes are more satisfying than shooting seascapes which to me are almost always disappointing. Maybe someday I will learn how to do that.

This day there were no dead creatures or footprints and the edge was messy and ill defined. But no matter what, there is always shoes on the beach.

Okay, for those that have never been to the beach on the Texas upper coast it requires some explanation. We do not have the pristine white sands sheltered by palm trees. We have debris laden, black stained sands—the refuge of storms and inconsideration. For some that is a problem. It is a problem if you go looking for a Florida beach or a Hawaiian beach you are going to be very disappointed. If you go looking for what the sea has left behind for you to discover today—then you might find the upper coast of Texas to be very interesting.

Back to shoes. Shoes are not my favorite abandoned clothing. There is nothing exciting about shoes unless you might have a foot fetish, I don’t. But still I wonder why there is always shoes abandoned on the beach. Do people just forget to wear their shoes home? That would be odd because it is not often that you find a pair of matching shoes. I don’t think there are that many one footed people that go to the beach.

One time I did find a fairly new pair of Nikes in the parking area which looked as if the person sit down in the car, removed their shoes and then swung their legs around and drove off. This day I found a matching pair of hightops about fifty feet from each other. Maybe this is not a story that resonates with you but I can’t seem to help wondering the whys of things and this one is a mystery to me. So I photograph shoes. I have done this a lot. It has never supplied an answer as to why, but I still do it. 



Addendum: Not that this has any significance but while trying to proof this I got to thinking about my beach themes. The Edge is about the beginning; Dead Creatures is about the end; Footprints and Abandoned Clothing are about the person in between the beginning and the end. None of the photographs are about what is in the photograph. I doubt that many will grasp that or even care if they do. It is all metaphorical. Don't know that I had consciously thought of the themes that way before.

ADDENDUM TWO: The reason why I photograph abandoned clothing is still in question. Maybe Avedon is right, all photographs are about the photographer. Just now browsing through these photographs the shoes in the photographs give me a feeling that correlates with life. These shoes are not always abandoned because they are old or they are no longer of value, but something has happened that causes these shoes to be separated from their mate, to be deposited alone, useless and abandoned to rot away the remainder of their days until the sand overtakes them and they like the human body becomes again dust. In some ways it is a sad commentary on life. Almost daily we see people who have become like these abandoned shoes. How does that happen? Why does that happen? Is it the fault of the individual? Is it our fault? Somewhere, I can’t pull the quote out of my head right now, but somewhere there is a poem by Vashel Lindsay that is applicable here. I’ll have to find it…

Found it.

The Leadened Eye

Let not young souls be smothered out before
They do quaint deeds and fully flaunt their pride.
It is the world's one crime its babes grow dull,
Its poor are ox-like, limp and leaden-eyed.
Not that they starve; but starve so dreamlessly,
Not that they sow, but that they seldom reap,
Not that they serve, but have no gods to serve,
Not that they die, but that they die like sheep. 

At the age of 51, Vashel Lindsay drank a bottle of Lysol.

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