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Every Place Is Enough

My first camera was a 1950s Argus C4 rangefinder with a leather case and a hand-held light meter. It had been my great-grandfather’s hobby camera. He died before I was born, but people said I looked a little like him, and carrying around that camera made me feel like I might get inside his head someday and see the world as he had. I wanted to understand.

My second camera was a 1958 Zeiss Ikon Contessa 35 that I borrowed from my dad and never returned. I was sixteen years old, walking along dirt roads in the hills above where we lived, traipsing through the woods behind our house, looking — always looking. I wanted to know.

I suppose that’s what I’m still doing today — walking and looking and trying to see the way that others have seen, as I attempt to see, un-see, and re-see: making all things both foreign and new. Making a small space in each photo I take, room for the viewer, a place of both welcome and challenge.

Every image is a poem. Every scene has a kind of structure. The capture of a place, for instance, involves decisions of narrative perspective (where to look, from what position), of cadence (beats, breaks, a line beneath the sky), of tone. And just like a poem, the effective image compresses emotional experience into a single, small expression.

Of longing.

Of beauty.

Of what it is to be. On that day. At that time. In all of my humanity.

And it is poetry.

Certain places stay with us, give us strength for the road ahead, vision for life along the way. My process involves seeking after and learning to see such places. All the rest is practice.

Terminal illness limited my mother’s mobility a little less than a year before she died, and as a result, I started thinking about every photograph as an opportunity to bring beautiful places back home with me – places we might share together. Now, years later, I find that she has always been in my heart but that she is also in my awareness. Her insatiable curiosity. Her laughter. She has been shaping what I see and how I feel. Her outlook on life has always been slipping into the images I create.

I work in the town where I was born. I’m interested in experimental community, deconstructed theology, quiet spaces, and food. I believe that every place is enough.

Eric Muhr | PO Box 751 | Newberg OR 97132-0751 | ericmuhr@gmail.com

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