Monday, June 28, 2010


Everyone's had the experience of writing a familiar word, then looking at it and wondering why it looked strange. You think maybe you've misspelled it, though it's a common word you've written thousands of times. Even after you confirm that it's spelled correctly, it still looks funny—like it's written in a foreign language.

As a kid, sometimes while I read, I'd have a word suddenly look strange to me like that. I found that if I kept staring at the word, soon it not only looked like a foreign language, but a foreign alphabet as well—as if I were looking at Russian or Greek written on a page. If I continued to stare, I got to a point where I even stopped recognizing the shapes as letters, but rather some kind of exotic graphic marks—the way Arabic or Chinese, say, seemed to me.

And, if I still continued to concentrate and stare, soon the letters began to look simply like abstract black marks on a white background, which is—and this is the point—exactly what they are. This, of course, is what makes the act of reading so remarkable and learning to read so important. To be able to convey such a rich world of thoughts, descriptions, arguments and evocations from a system of organized marks on a background is utterly remarkable.

But what I'm getting at here is something different: the stripping away of all of that meaning until the thing itself is clearly seen. 

More later.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sunrise Sunset Pro

If you're a photographer—or anyone who spends much time outdoors—and you have an iPhone this is a must have app. Photography is all about light, and light is all about where we are in relation to the sun, so if you're not paying attention to things like civil twilight, dawn, dusk, solar transit (high noon), you're missing out. 

This app takes your GPS location and immediately gives you that info for the current day. You can also select any date/location you choose.

One of the best apps I have for the iPhone.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Looking Up

They're so ubiquitous as to be completely invisible. So invisible there's no need to even attempt to disguise them or dress them up. Creosote-soaked lumber poles that wouldn't look out of place in an 1870 Wyoming cow town. The juice that powers our bright, shiny, new, digitized, interconnected world stung up over our heads in so careless and hideous a fashion it mocks the monkey on our back, rubbing our collective noses in our neediness.

Ubiquitous, invisible, mocking and extraordinarily vulnerable. A pole broken in a car crash,
a few lines pulled down by a felled tree limb and we're back in the 19th century.

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Feature on Nova Blog

Read more here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mill River

This series of photos of the Mill RIver has taken me completely by surprise. In the first place, these are not the kind of photographs I usually make. I don't think of myself as a landscape photographer, and I don't generally photograph the natural world. I've walked along this river for the past 20 years and although I've taken an occasional photograph there, it's never occurred to me to photograph it extensively.

During early morning walks I started to notice the way the river looked from the paths along its banks—the way that it always appeared in small fragments, framed by branches, leaves, rocks, mud. The river is so still and slow-moving that it exists almost as a negative presence—visible only in the reflections of trees, branches, sky. I am fascinated by the way the river is both integral to the scene and barely there at the same time. I am obsessed by it and haven't been able to stop making photos. Developing the images, seeing the negatives and prints for the first time, I've been almost hyperventilating with excitement.

The series has grown over the last couple of months to nearly 60 images. These are four recent ones.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I have less tolerance for clutter than I used to have. I try to keep things organized, but this is about as good as it gets. When my office is neat, clean and organized it just means that I'm not doing anything interesting in it. It's that simple.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


What is it about garages anyway? Strangely enigmatic when closed, they're nearly as mysterious open. Scene of oil changes, rock band practice, suicides. A clandestine entryway into the house. A repository for stuff: old furniture, recycling, lawn equipment. An office, a workshop, a spare room. One of Dylan's classic sneering putdowns: "Well, I see you got a new boyfriend. You know, I never seen him before. I saw you making love with him, you forgot to close the garage door." Site of countless start-up creative ventures—Apple, Google, HP just for starters. Garage bands. Garage wine. 

Architecturally, the garage door stands like either a large blank canvas—a house's smug poker-face that gives away nothing—or, in earlier, less-defensive times, curiously fenestrated with rows of little windows, set like eyes.

Free-standing, ivy-covered, built-in, gated, ramshackle or elegant, always inscrutable. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hotel Morning

Just after coming in from an early morning photoshoot around Cambridge, Massachusetts recently.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Buildings & Trees

Having to do with the often awkward relationship between the things that we build and the trees we share the space with.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Hello everyone - 

I've become more and more interested lately in having my photoblog on a dynamic platform rather than a static one. Something I could post to from anywhere, something that folks could easily leave comments on—in short, something that is a good deal more spontaneous and interactive than Motelrodeo.

When I first started Motelrodeo nearly four years ago, I was looking for a simple, stable, well-designed place where I could post the recent photographs that I'd been working on. The design of Motelrodeo fit the bill nicely, though for all practical purposes, it was little different than if I'd just printed up a magazine or broadsheet and sent it out. I'd make it in my office, it would go out into the world and then, well, it would just sit there.

So, in the interest of having something more flexible in format, where I can publish a wider variety of updates and post from anywhere—even from my iPhone—and allow for participation from the folks who visit, I've started this new photoblog on the Blogger platform.

The future of Motelrodeo is uncertain. I may just let it bow out gracefully in September, after a four-year run. It will remain online as is, of course, along with my regular website Joseph Gerhard.

I hope you enjoy the new format and visit often.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Homage to Mr. Lee

I was thinking about Lee Friedlander's new book, America By Car, on a road trip to Boston last week. Katie was driving her company car, a Toyota Camry—which has to be the most generic car in America at the moment. It's the same car that appears in so many of Friedlander's recent photos, in all likelihood because it was a rental.

I had my camera bag on the floor in front of me and my Superwide was in the bag. I couldn't resist.