This week, I dig deep into my photo archives to bring you a series of images I captured back in the early 1980s, whilst I was still a budding, experimental photographer. They primarily involve family, landscapes and the occasional visual experiment.
These photos were snapped on film and processed at one of those cheap labs on the mainland, an economic necessity as I often snapped off two or three rolls of film per day back then. Therefore, I lost control of the image quality you really can't go back and ask for a reprint when the lab is 1,500 miles away.
You can click on the photos to view a larger image.
Ken & Jean
My favorite portrait of my parents, Ken and Jean Meeker, taken at the old house on Commonwealth Avenue in Mount Pearl, during one of our family dinners. I can still taste the homemade wine and smell the boneless turkey roasting in the oven. Poses are okay, but I love a genuine moment and this was one of those.
My dad kept pigeons as pets, and this was Fido, a crasher' from the nearby feed plant who became convinced he was human (my brother Tom adopted Fido like a son). However, on those rare occasions when Fido couldn't come indoors, he sat on this perch and glowered at us with great disdain. I have many fond memories - and fun photos - of good ol' Fido.
Seal at Motion
I lived for two years at Geoff Stirling's retreat in Motion, as an editor-caretaker in residence. This is one of many photos I took along that wild and haunted strip of shore between Middle Cove and Torbay. On this day, I found a dead seal about 20 feet from water's edge, tossed in by a recent storm. Nature had performed a hit and run. (My apologies for the three orange blotches on the right their alignment indicates reflection of light but the colour suggests chemical discoloration.)
Watcher of the Valley
While living at Motion, I shared living space for three months with Steve Oliff, a graphic artist, comic book colourist and visionary from California. I used one of Steve's animation scenes (the cliffs of Middle Cove, in the background) and my lamp, made entirely of driftwood, to compose this photo. I titled it Watcher of the Valley'. Can you see the watcher? (Note how the light appears to emanate from the painted moon, but is actually from the incandescent bulb in the lamp.)
Boots on the Prowl
In this one, taken in the house at Motion, I stalk my cat even as it stalks me. I like Boots' foreboding demeanor, while uttering quiet thanks that I am not a mouse. The shot was tricky because the camera told me to expose for the bright backgroundso I exposed for the area under the window, then lifted the camera back into the light. The metal tank is pressurized air used for airbrush painting.
Tree at Motion
This atmospheric shot was also taken along the shore at Motion. The fog would creep in like creatures of prey stalking a blood meal, and brought a cold chill to many a warm summer's day in Motion. The tree - an extremely tall example of tuckamore - reminds me of the Danger Tree that grew on 'no man's land' at Beaumont Hamel.
I shot a wedding or two over the years, and didn't find the poses hard perhaps that was why it generally didn't interest me. But there was also the occasional unscripted moment, such as this boy peeking through the door of the Basilica in St. John's. It seems he is artfully dodging the lady in blue, though I have no reason to assume this his mom is probably still inside. I like how the image stimulates you to contemplate a story scenario of your own
On this assignment, I was shooting a visiting circus clown who was performing (and pre-selling tickets?) at a local school. I soon realized there were better pictures happening in the audience, and captured this sweet, shared smile between two little friends. By now, they would probably be perhaps 30 years old.
Steve in Path
I have an older brother named Steve. He is a decent, down-to-earth guy, as anyone who has met him will attest. And this photo symbolizes the way I will always see him: as straight and strong as any tree trunk. (The shot was taken at the old Bride and Jack's property in Manuels, before Al Chislett built a dream home there.)
Shot in a farm field on Logy Bay Road, in the early days of the sleet storm of 1984 - just before the big blackout. If you look closely, you can see that the tree is encased in a solid layer of ice. I processed and printed this photo in my own darkroom.