In the past few days, I have been spending more of my photographic time editing images on Aperture than roaming around with a lens. This is mostly due to the fact that I am visiting my family for Christmas and New Years in, of all places, Youngstown, Ohio. To be quite honest, I’m less than thrilled. The only reason I continue to have some association with my hometown is because my loving parents still reside there, as well as one of my best friends, Steve, and his wife and children. I would rather not delve too deep into why this town haunts me still, but even after having left years ago, every return visit serves as a clout to my soul.
There’s not much to photograph here, at least not in my eyes. I tried doing some nature shots at Mill Creek Park last year, which to be fair is a beautiful park in it’s own right; it is perhaps one of the very few decent things Youngstown has to offer. My shots from last winter there were simply disappointing. The images are still sitting in my Aperture library, unediting, in a state of limbo as I do not know what to do with them. While I enjoyed some slightly better success at the park during a week visit to my family last August, I still find myself lacking inspiration here in Youngstown. Perhaps I am jaded by my animosity. Perhaps my travels have spoiled me. It is just difficult for me to enjoy shooting in an environment that only brings out bitter and negative emotions.
I suppose there are some benefits to being in a photographically sparse environment, however. A break now and then is a healthy thing. I had been practically shooting every day in the past fortnight before leaving for my trip. Not having a busy city to wander about with a 35mm lens or vast blue-skied landscapes with a telephoto has allowed me to catch up on some past works. With the downtime of adjusting back to Youngstown life, I finally finished a fencing tournament set from three weeks ago (more about that after Christmas). I have also begun working on a Christmas-themed album, which I hope to unveil sometime before Christmas Day.
A visit to my aforementioned friend, Steve and his wife, Jen, today gave me an excuse to take my camera out at last. I met Steve ten years ago, our friendship forged on the fencing strip in an introductory class where we both first picked up the art of the sword at our alma mater, Youngstown State University. One of my more honored moments was serving as a groomsman at his Civil War themed wedding three years ago. Now, he and his wife are parents to two adorable sons for whom my lenses have much affinity. I must concede that one great thing about visiting Youngstown is taking a camera over to their house, whether for a commissioned portrait shoot as was the case in August, or for a casual visit as was the case this evening. Photographing my “nephews” definitely does help me get through visiting such a dreary place.
All images © K. Dao Photography 2013, all rights reserved.