THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S COMMENTS
like stories where the protagonist goes through a trial of some sort and is
changed for the better; such as, Castaway or Local Hero.
Spirits don't know how big or small they are in relationship to our human sense
of space. In New Mexico, you can purchase a small spirit dwelling the size of a
I have always liked the idea that what the photograph is of—is sometimes not
what it is about.
Sometimes children's songs are far more revealing and darker than what you hear
on the surface. I am thinking of "Row, row, row your boat, life is but a dream."
Looking back it seems like it was just a dream.
No matter how hard or difficult you have it, there is always someone else who
has it worse.
I love the look of sunbeams.
Every color vibrates at a different frequency—whether you are aware of it or
Always color within the lines. If you have a mystic experience, tell no one. In
time, you will convince yourself that it never happened.
Have you ever been encouraged, maybe from a teacher, to think outside the box?
Are you out of your mind? If you do, they will put your head on a spike and
display it in the town square as an example.
Photographer Garry Winogrand once said, "I like to see what things look like
when they are photographed. A photograph is not really a person's true
experience. It is something else, something different.”
Is the glass half empty or half full? If you are served a full glass and drink
half, it makes sense that it is half empty; but if you are served half a glass
to start with, then it seems like the answer would be half full.
Tell someone they are great today. I know it's embarrassing but it is important.
Over heard in a St. Francisville coffee shop. A younger woman asked an older
woman how old she was. The elderly lady replied, "Age is just a number and that
number is unlisted."
It may get worse before it gets better. Find some beauty today and take solace.
Just overwhelmed with bad news? Laugh! From a Seinfeld Episode: Three
friends—Jerry, George, and Elaine—were at a Chinese restaurant. George was
expecting an important call from a woman he was interested in. A shout from the
manager, "Cartwright, Cartwright." George inquires, “was it Cartwright or
Castanza?" "Yes that's right, I yell Cartwright—like that. She say curse word
and I hang up.”
Most of the time I forget that the destiny of the world is true enlightenment,
peace, and harmony. Someday.
A young person: I'm not afraid of anything. Me: You haven't lived long enough
According to a Vincent van Gogh biography, Vincent often used his brother Theo's
socks to clean his brushes.
Abundance in your life does not necessarily mean money. Although important,
money is far down the list.
Power, sex, and money seem to be the reasons when people get into trouble.
The Greeks had six words for love. Two of the most popular are Agape (brotherly
love) and Eros (sexual love).
If you look at your life from the perspective of many years, it doesn't seem so
bad. I feel lucky to have survived my youth.
My Mother would often open the refrigerator door, stare in, and say, "I want
something but I don't know what." Is your life like that? Mine is. As the French
would say, “Je m´ennuie.”
If anyone tells you that they have it figured out, they don't.
Has the world gone mad? It seems as if it is getting harder not to be affected
by the common collective of fear, stupidity, self interest, greed, and hate.
I have been told that if you want to win a photography contest, then photograph
either pets, children, or nuns in flying white starched bonnets. No judge will
say anything bad about that.
Back in the day when I was a photographer in the USAF, flashbulbs—if they were
cracked slightly would implode making a loud noise. I was the base alert
photographer one night at RAF Bentwaters in England photographing slight damage
to one of the new F-4 Phantoms. You guessed it, a flashbulb imploded shattering
plastic all over an air policeman from the south, who was standing in front of
me. He never even flinched but said in that calm southern accent, "Meek, you
done took 20 years off my life."
Remember message tapes for your landline telephone? I recorded a message
something like you have reached the number of the lost and forlorn. Leave
a message at the beep. I got so many hits and hang-ups, probably high school age
kids calling for entertainment. They used up all the recording tape.
“Humm that's interesting” was all my first art teacher said about my early
projects. Little did I know that was code for not so good, son. The reason why I
have been successful is because I was just too stubborn to quit.
Most of the time my life is obscured as if in a fog. I am still waiting for that
phone call that will change my life. I think they call that "magical
thinking"—but I still have hope.
Robert E. Lee said, "It is a good thing that war is so terrible; otherwise, we
would grow to love it too much." The same thing could be said for life.
Many will be forgotten within two generations. There is freedom in obscurity.
What is a thin place? A thin place is a place of energy. A place where the veil
between this world and the eternal world is thin. A thin place is where one can
walk in two worlds—the worlds are fused together, knitted loosely where the
differences can be discerned where the two worlds can become one.
I don't think it is necessary to comment on a piece of art being good or
bad—rather the level of experience you glean from it.
Selfies? The self-portrait is nothing new in art. Many great artists did
them—Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Van Gogh—to name a few. Some say that every
photograph you make is a self-portrait or at least a fragment of yourself.
I have heard it said that a good teacher will present a student with all the
technical skills needed to complete a given task; but a great teacher will be
there in a student's life at the right moment to change the direction and
purpose of that person's life.
When I was young, I often showed my work to colleagues and teachers. They would
say almost there, but no cigar. That did me no good. It is a wonder that
I hung in there. Well, most are either dead or have fallen away. I am still
here—here I am.
The crow is a powerful totem. It is good luck to find a feather—blessings for
Nature and the Universe are synonymous terms to me. Life, Death, and Rebirth are
The famous Swiss Therapist Carl Jung used to congratulate patients when they
were feeling bad because he knew there would be shift coming soon; and when
patients were feeling well, he would be sympathetic saying so sorry.
As a group of young artists, we would talk about photographs we had made that
were very special referring to them as gifts.
My imagination is the best and worst part of myself.
Overheard in New Mexico, pray for snow—we need the moisture. Thinking to
myself—have you ever heard of rain?
I remember an assignment in a painting class at the Art Center College of
Design. We were to create two paintings—one beautiful, the other ugly. The ugly
painting was far more interesting as it turned out.
"Can we do anything we set or mind to or do we follow a predestined path
impossible to change?" I don’t know but I imagine people take comfort in having
control over their life.
Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard 1813-1855, the Father of Existentialism
said, "Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forward."
J. Robert Oppenheimer, team leader for the Manhattan Project, exploded the first
Atomic bomb July 16, 1945, in the desert of New Mexico. It was said when he saw
the destructive power of the bomb he quoted from the sacred Hindu text, the
Bhagavad Gita, "Now I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
Blue is the most popular color for visual art. There must be more blue couches
than originally thought.
Just my observation but if you are looking for extremes between light and dark
energy visit New Mexico. Most can't deal with these concepts but for an artist
it becomes essential.
For healing, when you are depressed, look at something blue.
The sky has much to teach.
One of my favorite sayings, "I would if I could but I can't so I won't.”
I asked one of my students, "Is it duck tape or duct tape?" He thought a moment
and said, "It is both." Sure enough, during a trip to Home Depot I spied Duck
brand duct tape.
Do you believe the stories we have all heard that you are met by loved ones when
you pass over to the other side? I hope that is true.
At my age, people ask me “if I am still taking pictures.” I say “yes but at a
slower pace.” Then I add, "does the world need any more pictures?"
What is a visual idea you ask? Ask someone to write a paragraph describing a
color, say orange or blue. Then show them a color sample. No writing or talking
needed -it just is.
Linus and Charlie Brown are lying on their back looking at designs in the
clouds. Linus says that the cloud they are looking at looks like Beethoven
writing the 5th Symphony. Charlie Brown then says I thought it looked like a
Except for violence and torture, the day you die will be the best day of your
life. It won't be so for friends and loved ones that you leave behind—they tend
to get upset at the news.
"I complained about having no shoes then I saw a person without any feet."
Some (semantic) confusion exists between the art of observation and the art of
seeing. In my opinion, observation is passive and seeing is not. Sometimes by
the time you see (or observe) something you want to photograph, it is often too
late—if it is moving like the clouds, for example. It is one of the reasons why
having a camera nearby is helpful.
If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.
Me to my doctor: "They say that old age isn't for sissies and I am the biggest
sissy ever." Doctor: "Well then you better toughen up."
Light is not a matter of life and death. It is far more important than that.
In New Mexico, I told the students I was no longer in the criticism business; I
was in the make your dreams come true business.
If you don’t like my work, don’t tell me. I say talk to the hand. Criticism is
rarely positive. Negative comments are useless.
When asked, "Who is your favorite photographer?" I have to say A. J. Meek.
Influences are great but there comes a time in your creative life when you must
find something heroic about yourself.
Speaking about photographs, Ruth Bernhard used to say “I make them; I
don't take them.”
I have heard it said that a good photograph makes you want to make more and a
great photograph changes your life.
Love is the greatest mystery of all.
A. J. Meek
Return to "Wisdoms" Exhibit