Friday, April 24, 2009

Return to Sender

I have, for as long as I've been a photographer, been attracted to the forlorn rows of mailboxes that line rural roads and streets. For me, they speak to something simple and bucolic. I suppose common sense dictates the boxes were bunched up to make delivery easier where homes or farmsteads are acres and even miles apart. And no matter where I've seen them, they all tend to look the same. They come in a variety of faded colors with an accent of rust, jauntily tilted, peeling numbers and names, resplendent in character with doors that fail to stay closed and flags no longer able to "wave," signaling an outgoing piece of mail or parcel.

They have haunted me with a challenge. Actually they have taunted me. "Come on Rick. Make a photo of that no else has. Because no matter what you do...some other photographer has shot it, printed it, sold it and forever etched the image into the minds of millions that we are part of Americana. Come on, we dare you, we double-dog dare you."

And then today, there it was. "The Photo Place." I'm not sure where The Photo Place is or even what it is. There was no address on the box and nothing nearby that looked remotely "photo-ish." Nearby a couple of large men wearing No Fear t-shirts poked their heads out of a conex box that doubled as a recycling station. They eyed me suspiciously as I worked the scene. Photographers know the look, "What the hell is he making a photo of?" I smiled and waved to the No Fears guys. Uncertain, they looked to each other then back to me with half-hearted wave followed by a grunt and head nod befitting the No Fear image there clothing demanded.

And for me? I'd like to think I've met the challenge. Maybe I'll make a postcard out of it.

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