Here to There

March 30, 2011

Write about a place as if you are drawing a map of it with your words. Think about the position of places in terms of everything in your description. Where does that road begin and end? How does the position of your words reflect the content of the landscape? How does what happened in that place reflect the map of it?

The picture I found for this post makes me think about mapping characters. While I’m writing I’m going to think about where these people begin and end, not in terms of time or events, but with place.


More memories

March 29, 2011

When my father was a child he couldn’t understand how a camera could capture a person. He thought that every time someone took his picture he had to scrunch his body up really tiny so that he could fit inside of the tiny camera. This is him in action. Funny that he grew up to become a photographer, hm?

When photographer Larry Sultan’s father was forced to retire early from his job as a corporate executive, Sultan wanted to take a photograph that showed his father’s frustration and powerlessness in retirement. But, in fact, Sultan told his father not to smile. The photograph was posed. Sultan’s father told him,  “Any time you show that picture, tell people that that’s not me sitting on the bed looking all dressed up and nowhere to go, depressed. That’s you sitting on the bed, and I am happy to help you with the project, but let’s get things straight here.'”


Write about a time when you felt like you were a character in someone elses story. This could be based on a photo of you that tells a story using your image or someone talking about you. It could be over hearing someone talk about you, for example. Think about how their story compares to your own memory.

Wakey Wakey!

March 28, 2011

I missed you, Write Right Now! Last week I gave a presentation in one of my classes about Photography, Memory and Grief, and I ended it with an exercise.I gave a slide presentation of my father’s photographs and I figured I should share it here. As many of you know, my father is a professional photographer/photojournalist and he took pictures of my family almost every day of our lives. I used to resent him for this, in a way, thinking that he was exploiting us, using our private lives for his art. A lot of his pictures simply come off as sweet family photos that aren’t much different than the one’s you’d find in a normal family album, but others are clearly making statements outside of documenting family. Take this photograph of me  as a newborn, for example:

Then, when my mother  became ill, he, naturally, did not put down the camera.

When my mother passed away, and I began to write about her, I worried that my memories of her and of my own life, were only memories of photographs, memories that were only copies of memories. Later, I realized that all memories are copies, somehow. There is really no “pure” memory. As soon as we turn reality into a narrative, it’s already a copy, just like a photograph. I began to feel grateful for these images. All memories are acts of creation, of reassembling something. Photographs of my mother ruined the “pure” or “real” memory no more than a dress she used to wear or a song that reminded me of her.

Try to think about a memory that you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about or something you’ve written about before. Write about an object that reminds you of it. Think about how the object is a loyal representative of the thing or person or event you were remembering. How is it a symbol for your real, pure memory or how does it betray your memory? Try to write about it in a way you’ve never thought of it, as if it were unfamiliar or from someone elses perspective.

If you’d like to see more of my father’s photographs: