(I’m not in the best of health, and am scheduling this post a day in advance, but the 21st will be a big day for me, and I can’t afford to miss this post!)
If you’re a blogger, I hope you’ve found out about the A to Z Challenge. You would have, if you’ve visited this blog before, as I’m one of the co-hosts.
Today about 300 bloggers get together to celebrate the revealing of their A to Z Challenge theme— the theme on which they’ll blog for 26 days in April!
Yes, the ladies of #TeamDamyanti, Anna Tan, Csenge Zalka, Guilie Castillo Oriard, Samantha Geary Jones, and Vidya Sury *with technical support from Jemima Pett & Mary Wallace* are hosting the A to Z Theme Reveal Blogfest (following the unofficial tradition Mina Lobo started last year for the A to Z Challenge.)
I couldn’t be prouder, because my team of ladies is the best in the world– I’ve learned and continue to learn from each of them!
Without further ado, here’s my Theme this year: I’m going to write a piece of flash fiction a day, based on prompts from #TeamDamyanti and other blog friends, and combine them with photographs from one of my fave photographers: Joseph W Richardson, or Joe Richardson.
Joe is a writer as well as a photographer, and that fascinates me. I’ve written stories based on his pictures before, but this is the first time I’ll be basing an entire month of writing on his photographs. I asked him a few questions and here are the answers he gave me:
Tell us a little bit about yourself—why did you pick photography as your creative medium?
I fell into photography through writing. When I was in grade school, I discovered the books of naturalist Gerald Durrell. Durrell told incredible tales about wildlife encounters in exotic locales. He wrote with power and humor and grace. I loved Durrell’s adventures, and thought I’d travel the world taking wildlife photos. I never made it far from home. I did learn to use a camera. But I never really escaped my love for a tale well told.
These days, I spend as much time with a keyboard as I do with a camera. Some days I think of myself as a photographer who writes. Some days I think of myself as a writer who shoots.
Where is home?
Home is a small town in Southwestern Illinois, in the United States. It’s the kind of place you can’t wait to leave as a kid, and don’t want to leave as an adult.
We have a courthouse square where we sing Christmas carols in winter and eat apples in fall. West of the square we have an old library that, from the outside, looks like a sorcerer’s lair. East of the courthouse, we’ve a strange museum filled with devices you’d find in the magician’s trade. The town is bordered by cornfields and trees and creeks and rolling hills. At night, you can hear owls and coyotes calling beyond the edges of the light.
If you could live anywhere on this planet where would you build your dream home?
There’s a wooded hill a couple miles southwest of town that’s really nice, if you could put in good word with the owner.
Aside from that, maybe Melbourne or Darwin or Sydney–but certainly somewhere in Australia. I love the architecture, the culture, the wildlife, and the music in Aussie speech. The people I know from Australia–love them, every one.
What sort of subjects do you like to explore through your photography? What inspires you as a photographer? What sort of locations do you choose for your work?
I like to shoot places, buildings, and objects that have a strong sense of history about them. I can spend hours exploring old barns or ramshackle shops or broken brick buildings. I look at these places, forlorn and forgotten, and I see stories. I hear echoes of what was or what could have been. Places like this call to me. I think they appeal to a lot of people. That’s why we try to preserve them.
How much editing is involved in the final result?
With some photos, I bump the contrast or push or pull the color a bit and that’s it. With others, I apply filters and distress the original, until it looks like something I peeled from the bottom of a tool box, or that slept at the back of a wardrobe for fifty years.
Did you go to school to study photography?
As a kid, I learned to shoot through trial and error with a Pentax K1000 35mm SLR. Later, I took a job at a newspaper and worked in the darkroom. So I had excellent teachers, but no formal training. Pretty good metaphor for life, that.
About Joe Richardson: Joe Richardson is a writer and photographer in Southwestern Illinois. His work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, national trade publications, and on more than one refrigerator.
At present, he has a bit of writing tacked to a museum door that won kind comments from a former poet laureate. He divides his time among serving as communications director for a not-for-profit utility, producing content for a cultural heritage interpretive project, working on novels, and trying to keep up with his wife and kids.
Are you part of the A to Z Challenge? The Reveal? Have you ever written or read fiction based on photographs?