My love of photography and filmmaking was instilled in me at an early age by my late father, John. The basement of our suburban home was a mini photography and motion picture studio, complete with cameras, editing gear, projectors, and everything else one needed to create photographs and 8mm movies. This bounty of gear displayed an enthusiasm for the art of the image that my father clearly had had as a young man, before the weight of raising five children slowly ebbed away at his life energy—a life which mirrored the slow decay of automobile manufacturing specific to the region where we lived, specific to the industry in which he worked, specific to the zeitgeist that scattered my fortune on a western wind.
For many years, I have been in possession of a large gray plastic box of my father's old Kodachrome slides that I found buried in my parents' basement. The first couple of entries in the indexing card on the inside cover of the box were intriguing to me—Family & Friends 1953-57; My Car 1953; Northern Michigan 1954-1957—as I knew little about my father during this time in his life, before he met my mother, before I was born. After my father died in 2010, I decided to take a look at these slides on my light table and see what was in there.
Over the years, I have often sifted through the myriad boxes of family photographs, losing my thoughts in the moment of the image, pulling out my favorites, so I have come to know our family's photographic chronicle fairly well. But among these slides were all new images to me, images which I had never before seen, so I handpicked a handful of my favorites and had some nice large prints made.
Many of the compositions are strikingly beautiful. My father, like me, had a natural eye for framing an interesting shot. Sixty years of time has mellowed the bright and bold Kodachrome chemicals, encased in their tiny slide window museums, and transformed the images into lightly bleach-processed time capsules of the particular way of life of one particular man in the mid-twentieth century.
The color in these images is pure and lush, like a fine Brunello. Some shots, like the group in Native American and pilgrim dress walking on a desolate industrial dock in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, are spectacularly inexplicable, their contexts forever lost by Time's eager eraser. For me, these images have their own special context, providing me with a small glimpse into a small window of my father's naive yet transcendent photographic eye, expressed on a palette of glorious Kodachrome. This page has a few of my favorites.