A biographical note...
Jim Natale was formerly a news writer, college instructor, and college administrator. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, where he watches TCM (particularly film noir) and ponders the fate of the Chicago Cubs. Retired from full-time, gainful employment, he is now CEO, creative consultant, and maintenance supervisor at Past & Present Photographs, an enterprise with no employees and even less leadership. (Photo by Chuck King.)
A note about these pages and photographs...
In some ways, the place where we start is always home ground. For the oldest of us, almost all of the long-ago photographs that our parents made, those in our family albums, look much like the photos here. The first photographs that some of us made also resemble the photos on these pages. Such photographs, ancient prints in ancient albums, form wondrous, permanent worlds. Shadow and light locked away in a monochrome past.
Of course, all generations also have vivid and colorful memories...of grandparents, parents, old neighborhoods. Life is in color. At times we crave simplicity, but removing the color would not necessarily make life sharper or better, make our vision clearer, or allow us to slow the world so that we can grasp it. Inevitably we are swept forward and become the future. Lives accelerate, become increasingly concentrated and are saturated with complexity. Instead of photo albums, today the textures of our daily life are recorded as magnetic arrays of data on spinning disks, on solid state devices, or aloft in electronic clouds. New technologies, we assume, will preserve the arc of past and present.
At the same time, the old aesthetic retains importance. The technology of film and paper fostered a way of seeing and a way of appreciation. It showed us tone, contrast, detail, texture, line, form, and--in some mysterious way--atmosphere. No matter what the format, those elements will be a part of viewing in the future. Photography, in many ways, is a trust, a continuing belief that the elements of a rich visual world are always waiting to be recorded and revealed, everywhere and in every time.
"Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long."
-- Walker Evans