david schrott is everywhere

Burning Bridges

Posted in B&W Photography, Lancaster by thebreakfastdictator on 11/26/2013

Columbia, Somewhere; New Year’s Day 2007

There’s this place we love to go to. It’s three full stories of miniature and maxiature treasures. Some from the recent past and others of a time we can’t even conceive of; a time when photographs were printed on metal. In our minds this place only exists in black and white and the days are always foggy. The temperature may be a tick above uncomfortable. The silence here on these grey-grainy days is only half deafening. How can silence be deafening anyways?

2004 was nine years ago. But somehow in the slow-paced glaze of our minds, nine years moves more like nine minutes. Memories are still crisp of long hours of plaster-patching and coffee-getting during the dank winter days, punctuated by five-hundred watt light bulbs and winding trips through the gridded industrial streets. The Dodge was warm and comforting after these slavish days; shoes came off, then socks, and our toes and aching feet massaged themselves into the floorboard carpets. The cold concrete carefully caressed countless aches and pains up our feet and into our legs, backs and shoulders. Few things felt better than reclining in the plush passenger side seat, dreaming of a hot shower and conversing of the day’s events while listening to Bob’s conservative commentary.

Cross North Third street and head toward the river; the deadly river. Stand on the bridge that replaced the one the Yankees burned in 1863. Feel the cool winter air in your lungs? Breathe deeper. Inhale the grey fog. It is intoxicating; the camera and thirty-five millimeter film agree. The gravel crunches under rubber soles and we meander under the great pillars. There is a rumble here and there as the delivery trucks stumble into position. The tracks lie ahead of us and they foretell of a summer two years future, standing on a different bridge spanning the same deadly river. The narrows there is straight and long and the Volkswagen hits one-hundred on it. We park and carry our bag of golf balls (hundreds of yellow driving range balls) and baseball bats. The moon lights the expansive evening and each clang of the metal bat signals another ball entering the steamy summer night and plunking in the river a few hundred feet below. We do this for hours on end. Time is no enemy here and our youthfulness seems eternal.

In the distance there is a bellowing train whistle. We stop our midnight antics to gaze at the mighty muscle of the freight train. It pulls (or pushes?) thousands of feet of cumbersome cars. “How long is this thing?” we wonder. Its length is un-remitting and its destination unknown. Finally, the giant metal snake grinds into the horizon, the whistle fades and we settle back into our batting practice. Though the night feels everlasting, weariness sets in, the Volkswagen carries us home and the summer carries on.

Power Lines and Fog; New Year’s Day 2007

It’s January 1, 2007 and again we are here in this grey and struggling little river town. The fog is thicker than any day of recent memory and the temperature closes in on sixty. Since those grindy grey days of winter past, we have picked up cigarettes and not put them down for any real length of time. Our lungs remind us of this and the fat Camels we had the night before. A small camera sits on the back seat with a lonely roll of film next to it. These are fog photos pre-Instagram; pre-hashtag. The little city is beautiful on this soft day.

We carry our cameras there to write with light. There is no color. And let us tell you, few things are finer.

Biaggo (un-numbered)

Posted in B&W Photography, Lancaster by thebreakfastdictator on 11/25/2013
Biaggo | Untitled

Biaggo | Untitled

november songs are sung quietly

Posted in B&W Photography, Lancaster, Personal Work by thebreakfastdictator on 11/10/2013
november songs are sung quietly

november songs are sung quietly

This photo is now ten years old, and I still consider it my best. My Senior Thesis was a remarkably difficult effort. For the two years prior, I had been making endless amounts of black and white photos (sometimes shooting 20-25 rolls of film in a weekend) with a moderate to high amount of “success”. I’m honestly still not sure what “success” may mean as a 23 year old photo major (getting A’s and the praise of your professors, I guess; which did nothing but feed the ego that was about to be deflated by the long, tragic, nine-month war that was my thesis).

During the summer before my Senior year, I worked hard at creating a style that was my own, and by the Fall term, I was flailing – mostly at my own hot air. I tried color, b&w, still life, portrait, tableaux. Nothing was working. At some point, I realized that there was a poultry store in the Italian Market that sold doves. I purchased a few for eight dollars each and began experimenting with those. Annnnnnd everything was awful.

One November weekend, my roommate and I drove out to Lancaster and made some photos in, what was then, the Lancaster Futon Building, which was mostly empty and owned by Andrew Martin and some of his business partners. The third floor was essentially my studio for four to five cold months while I ground out photo after horrible photo.

…Except for that one night Lee and I were on the third floor. We named the bird Burt Reynolds and as I was packing my gear after a really boring and deflating shoot, Burt was sitting in his cage with the Fulton Opera house illuminating the background. I opened my camera lens to 2.8, set the shutter at one second and spun out one final roll, hoping something, just something would be worthwhile on it.

A few days later, I processed and contact printed the film. And there it was. The most beautiful image I have ever made. My jaw dropped and I immediately made a bunch of prints (currently, they sit in a box on my dashboard). For one bright moment amidst the nine dark months of my thesis, I sat content. Replicating success, especially accidental success, is quite often very difficult. This photo is my benchmark for excellence (at least in my own repertoire) and each and every time I pick up the camera, I strive, strain and yearn for one more happy accident.