Patti Smith

The Comfort of Sorrows

“Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.”
–Patti Smith

"The Comfort of Sorrows", Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/3.2 at 1/4000 sec., 27mmClick the image to view larger size and available print options.

“The Comfort of Sorrows”, Nikon D800, ISO 320, f/3.2 at 1/4000 sec., 27mm
Click the image to view larger size and available print options.

=^,,^=
Photographing people, places, pets and ponderings.

Booking family, personal, business and pet portrait sittings throughout Central Florida

Last Stand in Stockton

“I am almost a hundred years old; waiting for the end, and thinking about the beginning.
There are things I need to tell you, but would you listen if I told you how quickly time passes?
I know you are unable to imagine this.
Nevertheless, I can tell you that you will awake someday to find that your life has rushed by at a speed at once impossible and cruel. The most intense moments will seem to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and its dog-leaping happiness, the bleak blackness of passions unrequited, or unexpressed, or unresolved.”

― Meg Rosoff, What I Was: A Novel

Mamiya 645 Super, Ilford 120, ISO 125, f/16 @ 2 seconds, 55 mm

Never let go of that fiery sadness called desire.
– Patti Smith

Websites for Photographers

Robert Mapplethorpe: Hooked On A Feeling

I can clearly recall the day in 1975 that I stood thumbing through the new arrivals at my favorite record store, The Plastic Waffle Shop in Gainesville, Florida. The cover portrait on Patti Smith’s debut album, “Horses”, had captivated me. I’d never heard of her, but I bought the album because of that cover photo. So began my ongoing “fan” status of both Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. As it turned out, in the two decades that spanned his work, Mapplethorpe’s portraits of his close friend Smith are exceeded only in number by his self-portraits.

Enrolling at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1963, Mapplethorpe received training in painting, drawing and sculpture. In 1970, Mapplethorpe purchased a Polaroid, his first camera. According to the 1988 book bearing his name[1], Mapplethorpe ‘…was not a “photographer,” did not think of himself as a “photographer,” and did not aspire to become a “photographer.” He merely wanted to take his own pictures rather than use someone else’s from magazines…’ in his own art and sculpture.

Mapplethorpe’s desire to control how his photographs were viewed intrigues me. More often than not, he made his own frames or built complex and often symbolic framing devices. On several occasions he incorporated mirrors to insert the viewer directly into the piece being viewed.

The two decades of his work, primarily focusing on black and white, reveal an artist equally capable of capturing the beautiful and the profane. His daring nudes and homoerotic pieces have received praise and simultaneous condemnation as “obscene” and pornographic; his still life’s are intricate studies of light and shadow; his striking portraits always seem to capture and communicate a tangible essence of his subject. For me, Mapplethorpe’s mastery of lighting and staging is the hallmark of his work.

I find the most compelling of Mapplethorpe’s works to be his flower photographs. Flowers are one of my own favorite subjects in my photographic efforts. While staging such a photo, I have often found myself wondering or trying to imagine how Mapplethorpe might have framed or lit or positioned the object I am working with.

Mapplethorpe’s work has always made me feel something. Despite whether I like or dislike a particular piece of his work, I will feel something. I find it significant then, that in Smith’s 1996 biographic poem and homage to Mapplethorpe, The Coral Sea, she states:

“Nature,” he had boasted, “was meant to be redesigned, and opened, and folded, like a fan…His delicate eyes saw with clarity what others did not… He didn’t like to think, he didn’t like to talk; he liked to feel.”

Robert Mapplethorpe died in 1989. The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation continues to exhibit his work worldwide.


[1] Robert Mapplethorpe, © 1988 Whitney Museum of American Art