This image has multiple layers of meaning for me, the deepest intensely personal. As a young photographer, I shot the original in 1975 while playing around with a tripod, a single light, and the self-timer of the camera in my bedroom. The film was probably Tri-X, and if I remember correctly I pushed it several stops when I developed it. I printed a few photographs from that roll, but at the time I was not too excited about them. Some years later, I pulled out the roll and printed this one in the darkroom at what was then Daytona Beach Community College for one of my photography courses. I had the enlarger head pretty high and used a high contrast filter. I loved the dreamy look and extreme film grain of the final print. Later, I scanned the print on a high-resolution scanner in the photo lab. So the surface layer of meaning is about the techniques I used, somewhat fortuitous, to get this print.
Moving deeper into the meaning, this print reminds me of a significant loss. I had saved many, many negatives from my early shooting days; quite a few were shots of old Florida that no longer exist. As I moved from place to place, from life-change to life-change, from single college student to married graduate student to divorced horse-trainer to full-time professor position, I always moved that box of precious negatives with me. Then on the last move, I lost my box of negatives–it was somehow thrown out with the boxes of junk. A couple of weeks later, unpacking the last boxes, I came across this roll of negatives. To me, this roll symbolizes a partial retrieval of something precious I had lost. It is a link to my early photography days and those rolls and rolls of black-and-white film I developed by hand.
Ah, something I had lost. Here is the most personal meaning of this image. Not only is it a reminder of what I had lost, but it is a potent reminder of who I was at one time. This young woman was me, is me. She was so passionate about her art, so eager to experiment with her art, so comfortable in front of the camera. And her eyes. Those eyes looking at something not in the picture. Deep searching eyes, almost haunting. Those eyes are still my eyes. Searching, seeing further, seeing deeper.