I’ve been in the Midcoast and Downeast Maine area for the past few weeks, with one week remaining. For the past three winters and summers I’ve been spending nearly all my time outside the classroom here. In the summer, I teach weeklong photography and book arts classes at Maine Media Workshops. Last summer, I spent an additional six weeks here working on Country Made of Dirt, my latest book - now available on my website. During the winters, I’ve been focusing on a new series of photographs from along the coast of Maine… when all the tourists have emptied out and all that remains are the Mainers, and me.
Maine is one of the most magical and mysterious places I’ve been. It is utterly beautiful, and breathtaking at times. Ice-laden gusts of wind have literally taken my breath away, while watching the sky swallow the sea has metaphorically done the same. This winter has been the worst I’ve seen, or the best, depending on how you look at it. During my last two winters here, I found myself praying for snow and temperatures low enough to keep it around when it did. I haven’t had to do that this winter. It has been below zero more than it’s been above, with more of the same in the forecast in the week to come. We’ve had a couple of massive snowstorms, one that came in with me as I arrived, and the other on Christmas Day. We’re currently getting slammed with the same bomb cyclone storm that has dumped mammoth amounts of snow from Canada to Florida. I would be out in it, but unfortunately my truck is in the local shop as I slid on some ice the other night and right into a tree. The roads up here have largely remained quite clear; there is an enormous army of plows always on the move. I just hit a patch of bad luck on a rarely used lakeside road.
The work I’m doing up here has been exhilarating. In many ways, it’s taken me back to a way of working similar to Road Ends in Water, where I establish a loose geographical area as a constraint, and set out to get lost. Broken Land, Still Lives, and Paradise Road have specific geographical locations determined ahead of time, and recording what is found there creates a sort of typology. There is still a lot of mystery and discovery possible with projects like those, but not on the same level as a true wandering. A project about place has a lot of freedom. Anything is fair game and has potential for expression. By following intuition, light, or odd sounding road names, a sense of chance is created. It can be thrilling, with some days rewarding a substantial catch of 15 or so exciting exposures, while other days might only reap 1 or 2 decent sheets. So far this trip has been quite fruitful; I’m currently holding 155 sheets of exposed Kodak Portra film. I’m almost as excited to get home and process it, as I am to get out on the road again tomorrow and see how else Maine might surprise me.
The images embedded here were made with my cellphone on outings throughout this trip. Please follow along on my Instagram for many more.
video Shooting in Rockland, Maine by Malia Dell - pick up her cookbook FOOD THAT WORKS from her website, and learn to plan and cook for the week on a busy schedule like a boss!