Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

Can you remember anything about the year 2001? I mean, properly remember. Like what you had for breakfast on July 1st or how you had your hair done or what mileage you were getting in your car. Hell even what car you drove. I can't. With a little prompting maybe. For me, photographs are always those prompts, bringing things totally crashing back that I'd forgotten I'd ever done or experienced. Sometimes this is a bad thing but mostly it's good, because I can rejoice at how much more mature and sensible I am now that I'm a grown middle aged adult. Or not.

In 2001 I went to the USA for the first time. I was going to say this was my first overseas trip, but of course it wasn't. I went to Malaysia in 1999 for a week, truly opening my eyes to other cultures and the sheer bastardry of airports and airplanes. 
Cherating Beach 1999

So in 2001 I went to Southern California to stay with my brother in San Diego for a month. During this time a bunch of us went out into the Anza Borrego Desert east of San Diego city and camped for a night under the stars. It was a foreign landscape, like being on the moon. 
Anza Borrego Desert 2001
And beyond freezing, but that's a story for another blog entry.
Wait? What? It's snowing in the desert?

I was still shooting film in 2001, as of course was almost everyone else, and when I came home I had to deal with the flotsam and jetsam of hundreds of 4x6 prints and dozens of sleeves of negatives after I had all the film developed. Most of these prints were either just record shots or flubs, with the occasional keeper. But they all got put in a box with the negatives and that box rattled around from house to house and place to place with an ever-increasing number of similar boxes until I started shooting digital exclusively in 2005. Then  as well I had a giant pile of CDs to deal with, all of these in similar boxes, most of which I had no idea what they were because I never wrote names on anything. Dammit.

When I was cleaning out my office recently I came across some loose prints from this 2001 USA trip. A while back I'd pulled them out and scanned them for a photo book of my travels and they'd never made it back into the box, just floated around my desk then been poked into a drawer. When I looked over them, one in particular, I had a strong flood of memories - not from the trip pictured but from our most recent mainland USA visit in 2012. 

On this 2012 trip we'd been back into the desert, as we did every visit, riding through the same series of tracks and creek washes to get deep into the mountains. I had a strange Close Encounters moment when I realised that we must have stopped in almost the same spot in 2012 as we did in 2001 for this old photo to give me specific memories from last year. So back through my hard drive I went looking for the same shot taken 11 years later.

 And I was right; both times I've pulled my camera out to record the landscape, the first time on film with a Pentax MZ5 and in 2012 on a digital Nikon D300. We were certainly different people for the passing of a decade but essentially the landscape of our lives had remained unchanged.

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