Wednesday, August 09, 2006

On reams of photographs

I've had occasion to dig through my enormous volumes of St. Louis photographs from the last decade or so this evening, searching for a few particular negatives. In doing so, I can trace certain paths of awareness back through the years.

I visited the Page Boulevard Police Station and Homer Phillips Hospital a few times in '96-'97 (the last year I lived in St. Louis), but I never really plunged deep into the city's northern half until 1999, when I made a New Years' trip there for that purpose. Even then it was a cursory survey; not till 2001 or so did I really begin exploring the region in depth, tracking buildings across time, coming to feel a personal brand of concern over particular blocks and houses. Not till about that time did I systematically catalogue portions of downtown. Not till several years later did I begin to notice all the fantastic churches in town.

My connection to the city has changed as well. Virtually all my college friends have moved away, yet I now know enough people in the city that I never get to see them all when I'm in town. Through St. Louis I've become acutely aware of the plight facing so much Mid-Century Modernism in America. I've visited more churches in St. Louis -- probably 40 or 50 by this point -- than in all the other cities I've lived in put together.

It's an ever-growing circle of information, concern and awareness. Once you find yourself in it, it's impossible to let any of it go.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Continental and Life

It's funny... I used to photograph the Continental Building every chance I got. I have a several-inch-high stack of photos of it as it stood in abandonment in the late 1990s. I was driven by the conviction that it wouldn't always be there, that its days were numbered and the numbers were getting very small.

But now that it's renovated and brought back to life? I hardly have any shots at all. Maybe a dozen or so -- and only one or two that could really serve as a good before and after comparison.

There's a lesson in there somewhere, about not taking for granted what you see everyday...