Sunday, September 26, 2010

One day Story

Lyle Johnson, left, brings his shoes into Dawson's Shoe Repair on 7th st. where owner and cobbler, Bob Wood, right, assesses what will need to be done to get them back into tip-top shape. The job is a simple one. "Don't worry now, we'll have you dancing in no time," Wood assures Johnson jokingly.

George Wren, 56, previous owner of Wren's Birkenstock, a shoe repair/retail store on Broadway, sews a pair of brown loafers in a room of Dawson's Shoe Repair accessible to customers by way of a small window. Eight months after both the death of Bob Wood's father, Estel, and the closing of Wren's Birkenstock, Wren took a job "doing the rips," or sewing, at Dawson's. Though it used to be Wren's least favorite part about cobblery, 6 months spent selling shoes at Dillard's was enough to make George miss the environment, which to him, feels like home. "Wearing a two-piece suit, that's just not me," Wren said about working at the department store. Aside from missing the environment, Wren has found a new appreciation for the sewing machine. "It's the most creative part of the job. It's like, 'OK, how can this be done?' It's a constant challenge," he said.

Bob Wood, left, reviews a color chart with George Wren, right, in order to find what fabric would best match the red in a pair of shoes needing repair. When asked what got Wren into shoe repair in the first place, he said that he liked working with his hands, the independence, and the dual gratification from the position. "Not only do you get to see what you're accomplishing, you're also helping people with their problems." The two consult a scrap fabric bucket with no close enough matches to satisfy either of them and because the customer did not need them right away, they decided to wait for materials better suited for the job to be uncovered so that the highest quality work could be done on the pair.

Numerous spools of thread of assorted colors hang behind the late Estel Wood's sewing machine, where George Wren waits to repair seams on the shoes, handbags, and other apparel that come through the door of Dawson's Shoe Repair store on 7th Street. Estel's tools, sewing machine, and even his chair and cushion remain in the same spot that they had when he was alive, though his leather apron sits in the display case directly inside the store's entrance. Estel learned under his father, Forrest Henry Wood, and was the lead shoe repairman on the island of Guam for two years during WWII. George admitted that it was a "little weird" at first, working where Estel had for so many years, especially using his tools and chair, but he said that after sewing his first pair of shoes, he looked up and asked Estel if he had done a good job, if he'd done the shoes justice. "And I knew what his answer was too," Bob said with his eyes lighting up. "He'd look at me and say, 'Well do you think that you did a good job?" "Yeah, Estel, yeah I think I did and he'd say, 'Well, alright, then you did a good job." George rushed out to Bob to recount the story and Bob nodded his head, "That's Dad," Bob said, "he'd say, 'you know, you did, if you'd be proud to wear them."

George Wren, 56, recalls his history in cobblery- his apprenticeship in Centralia in the '70s, buying his own shoe repair store behind the Tiger Barber Shop on 9th street in 1981, spending 13 years on Walnut St. repairing shoes in the Berry building, and then 16 years running Wren's Birkenstock on Broadway, where he both repaired shoes and sold Birkenstocks. His store closed its doors on December 31 2009 and George briefly took a job in shoe retail at the department store, Dillard's until Wood offered him a position doing the rips for him in place of Wood's late father, Estel. Pictured behind George is Estel Wood's chair, cushion, sewing machine, and tools, which George uses regularly.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Picture story blog thoughts for 9/10

School Lunches and Polaroids, Lamott
Selecting a subject, Hurn & Jay

School Lunches and Polaroids, Lamott

Once again, I loved and really related to the reading from "Bird by Bird."
(that should be underlined as it is a book)

Not only is the idea of "school lunches" being a point of absolute judgment for kids by kids a poignant one, but it really does have a plethora of creative meat that can be extracted from expounding on the subject.

I thought it was a great metaphor for breaking down the one-frame idea-
ignore the parental notes, the actual lunch sack, or most of the content.

Start with the sandwich, just the sandwich.

I never had a lunch packed for me as a kid (or as an adult, for that matter)
but I can obviously still understand the metaphor.

I was there, obviously.
I watched the lunch swap, though I never once succeeded in making a trade.

My lunches were undesirable in every way, mostly because I was an undesirable
(and packed my own)

I also appreciated the metaphor of the development of a polaroid for generating a first draft.

"And finally, as the portrait comes into focus, you begin to notice all the props surrounding these people, and you begin to understand how props define us and comfort us, and show us what we value and what we need, and who we think we are." (p. 40)

What a great sentence that tells an awful lot. (maybe I'm just fond of run-ons and big ideas)

I loved the exposition about Lamott's experience writing about the Special Olympics.
Partly because I can really appreciate what she's saying because I've attended,
and partly because I now knew exactly what she meant with her metaphor.

I began to be able to truly relate my own experiences with how it -feels- for the development of the polaroid to begin and how it feels when it comes into view.

It starts out slow and begins to avalanche into that amazing feeling that she describes where one feels like they can "write all day."

Selecting a subject, Hurn & Jay

From the very beginning, I responded to the definition of photography as showing not what someone looked like, but what someone looked like under a certain set of circumstances or at a certain moment while relaying that effectively to others.

For me, a photograph is not successful unless it relates something "extra": It makes the viewer feel or think about (or wonder about) the subject.

What I am unsure of is if my pictures carry that unique stamp that tells the reader that in addition to these things that I am the one who is behind the photograph.

The exposition about the photographer needing a curiosity that leads them back to keep trying and failing spoke to my one-day story idea about George Wren and Bob Dawson because thought it's something that I've already had the experience of shooting, I am not satisfied that I am 'done' with the story- either photographically or journalistically or even personally.

The re-staging of George Wren into Bob Dawson's store makes me curious all-over because though I felt like I knew George Wren, I only knew.
I want to know how he has changed with his location, if at all.
I want to know how the story is developing.
I want to know who he has become after his shop closed, after he went to work at a department store, and now for another local cobbler.
I have to.

This makes me proud because this isn't something I've been assigned, it's something that I want to do and to read that it's part of being a good photojournalist makes me feel closer to the craft.

I was able to answer yes to the questions that follow about whether a subject would be good to photograph and came up with an affirmative answer to everything except "is it interesting to others?"

That I don't know.
And although I am sick with worry about how my class will perceive my idea, when it really comes down to doing this assignment, I don't care as much.

This is something that I really want to shoot.
I want to be able to follow a story that I care about and since it's being done for a class and not publication, I feel like I have that luxury, at least a little bit.
(Not worrying whether or not it's really an interesting choice to others. It might not sound interesting, but to me, it absolutely is.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Reading thoughts for Picture Story

I really enjoyed the reading this week and kind of wish I had the books on campus with me because the last sentence of the third reading was my favorite over-all and I'm brain farting on what it was.

I am leading the discussion on Anne Lamott's "bird by bird" introduction, which excites me because I can personally relate with Lamott's representation of herself as a child growing up as a reader and writer.

The only difference between us is that I think that I slouched sometimes or at least looked at my feet and my parents were not writers nor did they smoke marijuana.

Regardless, I did spend my childhood primarily reading, writing, and being teased as Anne Lamott had been.
And like her, my youth excellence in writing was recognized and nurtured by teachers.

In second grade, my teacher would have me read to the class on a weekly basis and in fifth grade, I was given the opportunity to read a novella that I had written called "Candy Murder" to the entire grade.

Here are some of the notes I wrote about the reading to guide my prompts during today's discussion:

"I just wanted to make comment and get reactions about your feelings connected to the idea that the writer or photo-journalist is the rare specimen of the working class person 'living on their own terms. Why is this true or false? Why is it necessary or not?"

"All ways of life have their pros and cons. What does the writer lose out on by not being a 9-5er? What do they gain?"

"I want to talk about the creative process for a moment. Anne discusses hers at length- the anxiety, time consumption, bouts of paranoia and hypochondria. I was just curious as to others' creative processes because everyone writes differently."

"I love her characterizations of herself as a child because I was so very much like her. Another theme I found important was the thrill and obsession of seeing oneself in print. Reading this supported my belief in the importance of writing above all else, writing as a means of becoming a better writer especially, though I realized that I, myself, have gotten swept up in the obsession of my publication. I laughed out loud about the bits of 'needing an agent' because it's something I've said many, many times, but she really relit my fire as far as focusing on your writing and letting the rest fall into place, as a matter of speaking."

"Let's talk about getting distance following traumatic events before expatiating upon it. Sometimes this is necessary, when have you done this? When have you not done this?"

Thursday, September 2, 2010