Back in September, I decided it was time to start making my 5th book of photographs.
I knew the title before I even started assembling the pictures. Well, I sort of knew it. The first person I discussed it in depth with was my sister, at the beginning of week-long girl's getaway. I told her the title for the book would be I Hope You Found What You Were Looking For. She knows better than anyone that my life has been a journey of "looking," that I've been using a camera for discovery and navigation for six decades. She listened patiently, with great interest, while I explained my concept for the book, and she gave me immediate support and encouragement. The only thing that bothered her, she admitted at some point in that initial conversation, was the use of the past tense in the title. But you're still looking, right?
Of course, she's right. I realized at that moment just how dark and pessimistic my thoughts about the future had become. The past few years have taken their toll.
Before we fell asleep that night, I told my sister I'd give some thought to changing the verbs in the book title from found to find and were to are. The next morning I took a meditative sunrise hike on Mt. Kuchamaa a mountain long regarded as sacred by Native Americans and a special retreat for my sister and me in Tecate, Mexico. The spiritual quality of the mountain has long been described by Natives in the area as a place "where you get your power." On my hike that morning, my thoughts about the book took hold, and the pages fanned out on the trail in front of me. Something magical happened as the sun rose, and something inside me shifted. I knew for certain I was on the right track - about the book and about myself - and the path was suddenly filled with light and hope.
Later in the week I did a little research on the history of the mountain. I learned that Natives interpret the name Kuchamaa to mean “the one that cures” or “the one that lifts up."
I've worked steadily on the book these past six months. It is a collection of 60 black and white photographs and includes poems written by Kim Stafford, a beloved Pacific Northwest poet who recently served a two-year term as Oregon's poet laureate. I see each of the images as meditations, similar to the quiet footsteps I took that morning up and down the mountain.
From the beginning, this book has felt like a collaboration. There's Kim Stafford, and then there is Douglas Beasley, who has contributed an essay on mindful photography. Julian Anderson has edited the text and written the Afterword. Christopher Rauschenberg and Laura Valenti helped me shape my ideas for the book and assisted with editing and sequencing the images. Once I decided to use Kickstarter to jumpstart the project, Summer Luu made a beautiful video for my campaign, and then many other people got on board (125 by today's count!).
I met my goal on Kickstarter before the campaign ended (there are 3 days left!), which means the book is officially moving forward. Everything is now in the creative hands of designer Sally Ann Field. Together, she and I decided on the size of the book, the number of pages, the typeface, etc. Now she'll design the cover and each page spread. Then everything will be passed off to the printing team at Verona Libri in Italy. Depending on potential challenges with supply chain issues, I hope to have the edition of 500 books delivered to me in Portland by early summer.
If you're interested in pre-ordering a signed copy, you can do so on Kickstarter sometime before the campaign ends early Wednesday morning (February 23rd). Here's the link.
I've learned a lot over these past six months. And I've come a long way... from found to find and were to are for starters.
I'm grateful to all who have been part of the journey thus far and to those who have shown support by making pledges on Kickstarter. I'm a lucky woman to be part of such a loving and supportive community.