Jon Crispin's Notebook

Tilghman(‘s) Island/DuPont Circle

Posted in Architecture, Automobiles, Buildings, Cities, Fishing, Food, History, Maps, Rivers, Transportation, Travel, Water, Work by joncrispin on 26/06/2014

I  have spent the last two days on Tilghman Island shooting more artifacts and a bunch of really interesting artwork.  It is a remarkable place, and I just love working there.  The above shot is a detail from a very old linen map of oyster beds near the island.  It was literally falling apart but is an amazing remnant of work life on the bay.

After 6 months of really hard work, it looks like Peter has found a job.  It will be a few weeks before he starts, but we are so happy for him.  I took a quick shower after the drive back to DC from Tilghman’s and we went right out to buy him some work clothes.  There is a GAP practically next to Nando’s so we ate some chicken and then went to Larry’s for ice cream.  It is a wonderful place on Connecticut Avenue.  I had lavender, which was probably the most interesting flavor I’ve had in years.

Home tomorrow.

Neil Gaiman / Poets & Writers

Posted in Published work, Work by joncrispin on 09/07/2013

I mentioned a few months ago that I photographed Neil Gaiman for Poets & Writers Magazine.  The issue is on the newsstands now.

It was a great shoot and he is an amazing guy.  I don’t think I have ever photographed anyone who is so comfortable with a camera pointed at him.  He really made my job easy.

Yesterday, BBC Radio 4 started his latest, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” for “Book at Bedtime” and I listened to the first installment on my way back from shooting suitcases in Rotterdam.  I am pretty sure it is available to hear online and with Michael Sheen reading it is really gripping.

Thanks to Murray at P&W for the assignment.  Great fun.

Old House Journal Story

Posted in Architecture, Jon Crispin, Published work, Work by joncrispin on 14/05/2013

The current issue of the Old House Journal (June/July 2013) has a story that I shot a few months ago.  Kerry Baldridge  is restoring a house in Exeter, NH and the shoot was lots of fun.  Here’s a link to the online version.  Her blog is great and for those of you who live in old houses it is worth checking out.  Scroll down to the bottom of the Old House online page for the link.

Tilghman in Transition

Posted in Animals, Fishing, Food, Friends, People, Rivers, Water, Work by joncrispin on 28/07/2012

The second film Peter is shooting deals with the transitions that Tilghman folks have been making as a result of the changing situation with the bay.  Larry Gowe was in the Navy and when he returned to the island he used what he learned in the service and became an appliance repairman.

His brother Edward works at Walton’s Seafood counting and sorting crabs.

And this is Darnell Murray who was working at Walton’s with Edward.  Darnell was in the Marines for 18 years and served for most of that time on the USS Nimitz.  His grandparents worked at the Tilghman Packing Company.

Here’s one of the soft crabs from this morning’s catch.  We had some for dinner the other night.  Really tasty.

The folks at Tilghman have really opened up their lives to us.  Peter and I have made some very close friends.

Willard Suitcase #9

Posted in Willard Suitcases, Work by joncrispin on 05/12/2011

I had my most productive day ever this past Thursday.  This case belonged to Eleanor G.  I was expecting a regular suitcase from the way it was wrapped, but it was something altogether different.

The museum has a total of five cases from Eleanor, and I photographed all of them but the large steamer trunk.  I’ll get to that on my next visit.

This is a very interesting cardboard storage container, and you can see above how I found it as I opened the drawers.

Eleanor must have sewn a lot.  One of her other cases held two beautiful light cotton dresses that were clearly made by hand.

This drawer holds just a small selection of her sewing kit, and a couple of garters for her stockings.

Here is her little needle case.

The handles of these curling irons are the most beautiful shade of green.

For me, the most beautiful and evocative item was this perfume bottle.  I googled Isabey and this is what I found.  The link is a little funky, but at the top is a picture of the reissued bottle and case.

This could not have been an inexpensive bottle of perfume at the time she got it.  Hand blown glass, and a beautiful velvet lined case.

Peggy helped out big time on Thursday.  Both with rewrapping and seeing things that I might have missed.  It made the day doubly productive.

Tom Schack

Posted in Friends, Music, People, Work by joncrispin on 12/09/2011

In a way, this isn’t really fair.  Tom is always smiling, and this doesn’t really represent who he seems to be.  But I really like this picture. /  I spent part of yesterday morning photographing his band Outer Stylie and it was loads of fun.  Really nice guys.

World Trade Center Panels

Posted in History, Work by joncrispin on 11/09/2011

In 2008, I was asked by the New York State Museum to photograph the panels that lined the Fulton Street viewing area overlooking Ground Zero.  The 4′ x 8′ sheets of plywood were assembled and meant to act as a way to help keep people in line as they waited to view the site of the World Trade Center after the attacks of 11 September, 2001.  Almost immediately people waiting on line started writing on the wood and attaching photos and other momentos in memory and support of the people who died that day.  The panels were never meant to be  permanent, but they became such an important document of the attacks that Craig Williams worked tirelessly to insure some record of their existence be created.  The entire collection of panels was shipped to the museum’s Rotterdam, NY storage facility where we photographed each one.  Since the writing was so small, and I was worried about the camera’s ability to resolve the all detail, I decided to shoot each panel in 3 sections and then stitch the images together to make one large file.

This is one of the hundreds of panels we worked on.  Connie Houde has been assembling the images and the hope is that researchers will be able to access the complete archive in the near future.  (Due to image size limitations of this blog it is nearly impossible to read the smaller writing, but in the original files everything is readable.)  Connie made small prints of the entire layout and one day when I was visiting the museum, she laid them out on the floor of the hallway, all taped together. Amazing

At the time we were working on the Fulton Street panels, Craig mentioned that New Jersey had set up a similar viewing area on Liberty Island and that there might be a chance we could document those panels.  It took a few years to organize, but this past year they were shipped to Hangar 17 at JFK Airport and we set to work again.

The plywood here had been painted white, which makes reading the text much easier. /  So much credit should be given to Craig and his staff for finding the resources to do this work.  Due to the instability of plywood and ballpoint pens and markers, fading has already begun; especially on the Fulton Street panels.  In a few years, much of what has been written will become unreadable.  It is now preserved and will be a great document to the events surrounding the attacks on the Trade Center.

I mentioned Hanger 17 earlier, and I have been fortunate enough to be able to spend quite a bit of time photographing the facility. It is where much of the steel from the buildings has been stored as well as many of the vehicles that were destroyed when the towers collapsed.   I had planned to do a rather long post with photos of these artifacts, but when I was editing the pictures today, it just didn’t feel right.  It is hard to describe the emotional impact just being around items that represent such a sad and emotional event.  There is a certain reverence that one feels when surrounded by so much intensity, and it felt kind of bad to be exploiting it.  Maybe someday I’ll do something with them.  I made a couple of 360 degree panoramas of the interior of the hangar, and it might be nice to post them here so that people can see what it looked like before most of the steel was distributed around the country. / I’d encourage you all on this 10th anniversary of the attack to think about the people who died, along with their friends and families.

Curtain Theatre Lighting Grid

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Construction, People, Work by joncrispin on 23/08/2011

The Curtain Theatre renovation is moving along.  Last week they put up the new lighting grid and it is very interesting.  These are guys that have been doing all the work.

Curtain theatre

Posted in Architecture, Construction, Work by joncrispin on 27/07/2011

UMASS is renovating the Curtain Theatre in the Fine Arts Building and I have been documenting the progress.  I enjoy photographing in dark spaces using long exposures.  Here I have stitched two frames together.

Willard Asylum Suitcase #2

Posted in Art, History, People, Shoes, Uncategorized, Work by joncrispin on 24/07/2011

I was back in Rotterdam last week to photograph more suitcases from Willard Asylum.  Check this out for the background of the project.

I am slowly beginning to formulate a plan for how to proceed.

Even though an inventory of each case has been prepared by the museum, I prefer not to know the contents before I begin taking pictures.

There is something about being surprised by what’s inside that helps me connect with the person.

And I want the connection because I am trying to say something about the lives they lived before arriving at the asylum.

Anna’s first case contained mostly clothes.

I believe the inventory was done just as she arrived at Willard.

The museum is very careful about caring for each individual item.

Anna had some really beautiful clothes.

Just about all of her clothes had nametags, which I have to assume were sewn in before her time at Willard.

Below is the second of her cases.

This one had fewer clothes and more personal items.

For some reason, I really like the paper that the museum uses to protect the cases and their contents.

I especially like the design of this one.

When I photographed the abandoned buildings on the earlier project, I tried never to move items that I came across.  This is so different for me as I need to lay the items out in order to photograph, but I don’t want to make the arrangements look too studied.  I actually work very fast when I am shooting.

This case contained several hats, and an incredible pair of shoes.

There were also some indications of her life before Willard.

The hair pin packaging is beautiful.

I am not sure if the residents of Willard had access to their possessions during the time they were living there, but somehow I think not.  So this letter would probably have been received before she arrived.

And since it was not addressed to Anna, I wonder about its importance to her.

Thanks so much to Craig Williams at the New York State Museum for allowing me access.  As I mentioned in the earlier post, I would really appreciate any feedback.  I still don’t have an outlet for this work, and no funds to jump into it in any concerted manner, but I hope to keep chipping away.  There is alot of information about the people attached to these suitcases and should I go much further with the project, I would like to be able to include some biographical background to accompany the photos.

%d bloggers like this: