Bookmark

Did you know the average American reads 12 books a year? Give me a pat on the back, better yet fist bump. Make that a dad fist bump where the fist explodes. Ahhh yeah, because I’m no average American.

This year I’ve read 19 books.

I challenged myself to read 15 books in 2019. Now these aren’t books that I’m reading to my two year old son before bed, although I should count those too, ha. I swore I’ve read the Hungry Caterpillar like a million times.

Shout out my homie Ed Underwood for inspiring me to get on this book train. Now that dude reads. I sent him text that I read 15 books a couple of weeks ago and he responded “I’ve read 30 already…” We get it Ed you read.

Anyway to hold myself accountable I’m going to start sharing my reads here on my blog under the category of Bookmark. If you have any book recommendations send ‘em my way.

***Dad fist bump***

Titles I’ve read this year.

Titles I’ve read this year.

Last night during the thunderstorms that rolled in on Seattle with the DirectTV flickering in and out I decided to finish Hold Still by Sally Mann. Coincidentally the first edition of Bookmark would be about a photographer, that wasn’t on purpose. I’ve just been lazy in updating the blog. Keepin’ 100 as the kids say. Here’s my super short take on the book. Don’t worry no spoilers here.

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I’ve been meaning to read this book for years. I really enjoyed the parts where she refers to her family journals weaving vivid memories of her past. Makes me want to be more diligent in putting pen to paper and documenting my own life for generations to come. This book touches on race and class in ways I hadn't expected. Sally Mann is a gifted writer and her prose are especially touching when she writes about her nanny "GeGe" With Hold Still Sally Mann proves she so much more than a photographer.

Film: Love Hate

Finally got around to developing some film. To be honest, while I love shooting film developing and scanning myself has gotten tedious. I just don’t have the time any longer to set aside for marathon developing sessions followed up by marathon scanning sessions. I’m beginning to hate this part of the process. I know hate is such a strong word. Don’t get it twisted film will always have a place in my life. While most days I have my Fuji X-Pro2 slung across my shoulder rest assured there’s also a point and shoot film camera in my bag, whether it be my Holga 120N, Olympus Stylus or Leica Mini Zoom.

Luckily in Seattle we still have a few dedicated analog labs operating and thriving with the resurgence of film. I may just go ahead and support these local businesses and start sending a few rolls there way. Everybody wins.

Seattle Film Labs

Inspo: Why Family Photos Matter | Thomas Allen Harris

Lately I’ve been harping about the importance of photographing what you love. For me it’s family. When I first started taking photography seriously as a creative outlet, I didn’t view my family as subject matter, so I rarely turned my lens toward them. This is something I regret every day. Fast forward to today, now I’m a dad with a family of my own. All I ever photograph it seems is my family, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I have vivid memories of my mom always with a camera nearby taking photos of milestones. It seems like her Kodak Instamatic was never too far. School play, snap. Thanksgiving, snap. Graduation, snap. All those photos tucked away in albums. Then on August 24th 1992 Hurricane Andrew makes landfall. At that time, Hurricane Andrew was the most destructive storm to ever hit the United States. Before the storm, I remember my mother putting the family photo albums and countless envelopes of negatives in garbage bags then putting those garbage bags into big blue plastic Rubbermaid tubs. It didn’t dawn on me until a few years later that she was protecting family memories, our history, our record. While our home was destroyed, those blue plastic tubs full of photos survived and so did our family history in photos. This left an indelible mark on me, motivating me to document my own family and more importantly PRINT those photos.

I recently discovered a show on PBS called Family Pictures: USA, a new three-part PBS series created and hosted by filmmaker and photographer Thomas Allen Harris, explores American cities, towns and rural communities through the lens of the family photo album. When I was doing more research about the show I came across this Ted Talk from its creator and host. If you are at all interested in photographing your family, telling your family story, it’s worth the watch.

As You Grow

Ever since my son was born I’ve been photographing with intent. The intent to document, preserve and tell a story for future generations of our family. Lofty I know. The photographs I’ve been making over the past two years have centered around my wife and son. Witnessing this relationship grow from day one is something that I really can’t put into words so I won’t even try. I’m just glad I’m around with camera to my eye to document it all.

As You Grow Vol 2. Documenting my son’s second year.

As You Grow Vol 2. Documenting my son’s second year.

What am I doing with this body of work? For starters very little of it makes its way online in the form of social media. I do share these images with family and close friends by way of a private family blog. Most importantly, I’m printing. I can’t stress this enough…print your photos. I’ll write a separate post on my printing process, but stop reading this post, go to your phone or your computer select photos and PRINT. Just do it.

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For this book I made selects throughout the year, designed with Blurb Bookwright using “auto layout” , and hit print. About “auto layout” I was lazy with sequencing, these photos are sequenced in the order they were made. Super simple.

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Is this a long term personal project? Not sure. I’m still working out what I’m doing in documenting my family. By that I mean there’s no artist statement, theme or grandiose philosophy. What’s important to me is that I’m MAKING these images and SHARING them with the people closest to me.

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AS YO GROW, I guess is me, a dad, simply documenting our days for our family.

The long game is that by the time my son grows up and ventures out his own there will be printed images in both book form and boxes of photographs for him to take with him. I may not be around but he’ll at least have these photos. I’m gonna stop right there because my eyes are all watery, damnit.

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Document your days. Print your photos. Peace.

Hustler

His hustle, I’ve always admired it. His creativity, always envied it. His style, always peeped it.

Chris Clayton aka Chris Cardi in NE Washington, D.C.

My younger brother continues to live on his own terms. One thing is certain, us Clayton men are stubborn. But please don’t mistake the stubbornness for arrogance, ya see the arrogance is in the DNA. In all seriousness my brother Chris has always lived a creative life, he’s actually the first “creative” I’ve ever known. Growing up I’d watch him make his own board games, fashion his own clothing, always heads down in his sketchbook, always creating.

Takes balls to leave a comfortable corporate gig to follow your creative pursuits. I wish I had that courage. Oh and I wish I had that hustle, that creativity, that style.

As his company motto says: Live Fresh. Die spoiled.

Stay hustlin’ young man.

Now enough about him, back to me. This is my blog so get that spotlight back on ya boy, moi, me. More and more I’m enjoying making photos like this. Little photo essays, snippets of of my life. I used to love walking the streets for hours chasing that “decisive moment.” Side note, check out Daniel Milnor’s piece on street photography. My photography has evolved and Milnor’s piece put into focus what I’ve been struggling with.

Nowadays I just let the photos come to me, organically. Perhaps one day I’ll get off my ass and pursue a long term photo project. But right now all my photos are personal and I’m enjoying this document your days approach. That approach is taking my camera everywhere and let come what may.