Sunday, September 26, 2010


I had a brilliant photography teacher, Mary Jo, and she theorized that we take many of the same pictures over and over again despite the contents appearing to be different.  I did a project called The Portable Universe that was about the things women carry in bras, pockets, laundry bags, and so forth from cradle to grave as a way to bind women's lives without prejudice, since most women leave the house with a portable universe of things.  

Photographing Aunt Ruth, I noticed that I was drawn to her photo array, her recipe box, and her giraffes.  Most of the giraffes are gifts from friends and family, and they have become her signature.  They make her laugh.  In telling her story, the giraffes must be included.  

I collect bees.  No surprise with a name like Honey, and most of them have been presents.  I have yet to have bee shoe ties like Aunt Ruth's giraffes.

Maybe, your Aunt Ruth would like to tell you about her collection.  It is a nice way to get to know someone.  


  1. Wish I had an Aunt Ruth. Wish I had an Aunt. Period!

  2. What a good idea. People's collections do speak volumes about themselves. Will have to ask MY Aunt Ruth about hers!

  3. Honey, Thank you for this post and for bringing the photo of the Giraffe shoes back from my memory. The photography of "things" is too often overlooked, but you have shown us another layer of Aunt Ruth with this image. I'll be waiting for more!

  4. "Mary Jo... theorized that we take many of the same pictures over and over again despite the contents appearing to be different."
    Honey, this is what I commented about a couple of weeks ago and then I got lost in the registration process. It appears that I have succeeded now, so here's my comment-
    Mary Jo's theory was espoused several decades ago by Minor White (and others). Minor called the repeating process 'coreform'. It was part of his approach to teaching creativity in photography- a daunting task in that young photographers are so enamored by the photographic process and it's wonderful results. But many noticed eventually that they were 'saying' the same thing over and over again. This is what can be called 'a crisis in creativity'. So, how to face this crisis? The method is to study the 'coreform' or 'coreforms', because there most likely is more than one in the body of work. We began by making sketches of the actual graphic forms in our photographs. The rest of the process proceeds naturally from there. The forms become apparent and eventually that new knowledge begins to inform the photographic making process- I can recognize the forms as they appear in the viewfinder. My decisions may vary at that point, but one option is to skip over the familiar form and move on to something new.

  5. Aunt Ruth seems like the aunt we all would have loved and learned from. Her advice is especially compelling to those of us who have lost our mothers and miss the female bond to Aunt Ruth's generation. Thank you for sharing yours with us.