Practice Roll

I haven’t shot a roll of film in quite a while. In fact, I had to drive 20 miles from home just to purchase some. Today I went for a walk and took some practice shots. I didn’t trust the in-camera meter reading, so I brought along my hand-held meter. I haven’t used that in a long time either. It seems that my vision has changed radically, as well since my last foray into non-automated camera work. In summary, it was awkward as hell.

What was I thinking?

It was a fall day, in this town outside of Chicago. The leaves were turning colors. It was beautiful. Too bad I had black and white film in the camera. Also, too bad that I have to wait until I get home to get the film developed to see how my practice roll turned out. Oy vey!

Why do all this?

Jack and Mike self portrait

Jack and Mike Self Portrait

In a couple of weeks I will be visiting my mother in New Jersey. Little brother is going to drive us all out to see Michael, whom I haven’t seen at least since I moved out to California. Michael is my older brother who is autistic, profoundly retarded and nonverbal. I haven’t seriously taken pictures of him in longer than that. I don’t want to have to think about the camera. All I want are some good pictures that will update me about Mike, his current condition and perhaps more clues about my relationship with him.

If you haven’t looked through the archives of my blog, I have to tell you that photography has been instrumental in my quest to more fully understand my brother. Over this past year, I have presented the photographs that have been the most provocative in terms of thought and emotion.

While I was growing up, Mike was pretty incomprehensible. He understood very little, but he was single-minded in whatever he wanted to do. He taught me patience and sensitivity. I had the feeling that I was missing something about him. Because of him, I became interested in the brain; the philosophy of what we can actually understand about the brain; and ways to express my own thoughts. My atheistic and existential tendencies are probably results of thinking about issues in light of my experience having Mike as a brother. He surely has given me a lot to think about.

I really hope that my visit helps to answer some questions in a way that I can demonstrate through my photographs, even if it is only the passage of time. However, even if I am disappointed in my photographs, I can try writing, sketching, painting, sculpting or some other way of expressing myself to convey what I have learned since my last encounter with my brother.

I have been told to prepare for depression. I have had that experience before, when I saw Mike after a long absence. I wasn’t prepared for it then. I don’t think it will affect me terribly this time, but one never knows.

I’m looking for something, perhaps continuity of some kind. I am not seeking a revelation at this point. However, all things considered, it is a bit anxiety producing.

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