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Part 1 of 2: “Where’s Papa?”

Caribbean: Empty Beach Chair, Missing Papa

Interviewer (Q): So this is where your photo blog idea came from, with a book, With Hemingway: A Year in Key West and Cuba by Arnold Samuelson?

Blog Writer (A): Actually, it really needs to start earlier than that book; it starts with a magazine article reviewing that book. That review both started the blog idea and almost derailed it as well.

Q: You mean the Esquire Magazine, January 1985 issue featuring James Kaplan’s review, “Where’s Papa: Awash in a Sea of Hemingway Bios”? I’m told that you’ve kept that magazine article for 27 years. That article must have made quite an impression on you.

James Kaplan’s Esquire Magazine Article that Started It All

A: It did. And as a quick side note, Hemingway was one of the most sought after writers for Esquire magazine when the magazine first started in the early 1930’s.

Q: So what was it about the article in particular?

A: Two reasons: (1) It started my lifelong love of reading Ernest Hemingway’s writing, his life, and literature in general, and (2) James Kaplan’s bemoaning the fact that there was too much already written about Hemingway. “There is a feeling of sprinkling sand onto a beach.” But then Mr. Kaplan wrote, “What then, to make of yet another Hemingway memoir, a slim and often ill-written book, one more speck of sand on a windy beach” but “something about this flagrantly supernumerary memoir held me, moved me.”

Q: Let me interrupt–I thought this was a blog was about quilt/textile and travel photography, not about dead writers.

A: Hang on… so, Kaplan implored the reader do we yet need another bio about this mythic writer? And yet, he grudgingly admits, that yes, this book does have a rightful place on the already overloaded Hemingway canon.

What stayed with me all these years later was that paradox of celebrating a new writer and the tiredness of—enough already—with yet another aspiring wanna-be writer. So what does an aspiring blog writer do?

You see I enjoy writing and work full-time as a quilt and textile photographer. I write a column on digital photography for Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot, (a Handweavers Guild of America, Inc. publication) and have enjoyed that writing and teaching process a lot.

So I’ve thought about a photography blog for several years, but Kaplan’s justified complaints (in particular about the overloaded canon of mediocre writing) held me back. As I would sit down to write a blog, I would stop cold with the thought that does the world seriously need yet another blah, blah, blah blog? Aren’t there enough bad writers out there who own a camera?

As one of my photography teachers used to say, what do you call someone who owns a violin? A violin owner. What do you call someone who owns a camera? A photographer. To which I would add, what you call a photographer who thinks he can write— a blogger!

Dreaming of Open Water

Q: So why start a blog now? You’ve been a photographer for 11 years, over eight of them professionally.

A: Before becoming a photographer, I was a mental health therapist for 18 years. I saw many people who made life-altering decisions sometimes quietly and at the time, in seemingly inconsequential ways.

For me, it was the time when I attended a wedding ten years ago, witnessed a missed photo, and decided that day to buy a camera and shortly thereafter with no training or experience, decided I wanted to be a professional photographer.

Not much later, I took my first phone call from a quilter who asked if I photographed quilts, and I said yes. (I thought, hard that can be? I found out it’s a lot harder than it looks.)

And more recently, after searching for and purchasing some photo frames, I end up deciding to be a writer of a photography blog. (Continued in Part 2)