I wanted to show a sample of one of my upcoming photography books. Titled “Lost in the Long COVID Winter,” this album features 150 color photos taken around Chicago during the first four months of this year. Its mood captures the feelings of enduring a long cold winter, but also the weariness of struggling to survive the COVID-19 plague throughout the past year. Compared to last year’s The White Album, this book is more austere, focused and precise. I kept the mastering/post-production simple and direct, avoiding the wild swings in style and mood. It follows a story told in images about loneliness, despair, loss and longing, but ending on a hopeful spirit of renewal, rebirth and new possibilities.
Working on this project, I was keenly aware of the idea that I’m artist who creates “albums” instead of “singles.” That means, I’m not merely assembling photos or artwork for a single project or gallery show, not something to be simply thrown onto Instagram for immediate consumption (only to feed the digital methadone addiction), but as a fully self-containted work, like a record album or a novel. Music and publishing have always been my twin obsessions, dating back to teenage fanzine adventures, and it continues today. This means that my work always must serve a greater narrative purpose, that there must be overlaying themes and ideas behind the images. I’m not simply tossing together a stack of photos at random (even The White Album had a precise function behind its seemingly random chaos).
My first photo books were about discovering the city of Chicago, to which I had migrated from Minnesota. Farewell, Chicago Tribune, Blacklight and Trinitron Euphoria were all, in their own way, about the death of my unborn child Panda in 2018. Biotracer was about the sense of renewal and rediscovering my own voice a year after that horrible tragedy. The White Album was about examining America in the year 2020 as a parallel to 1968, seen through the lens of The Beatles’ most eclectic masterwork. And Lost in the COVID Winter is about suffering, endurance and the fear of loss, inspired by the whole miserable, rotten Trump trash factory and COVID and other things. These are all personal works, reflections on life without and life within.
Visually, there is still a variety of color schemes present, and I am particularly impressed by how the evening shots came together. Many photos were taken along the north shore of Lake Michigan, where I walk my dog on most evenings. The sequencing is mostly chronological from January to April, with a lot of photos moved around to ensure proper “cinematic flow” for the reader. I don’t know if anyone is aware that this is a thing I do, but it is. Everything was captured on an Apple iPhone Xr, which is still a very good and underrated camera and works very well with the 4:3 portrait frame, which is ideal for viewing on mobile devices.
I don’t have a release date yet. The current plan is to complete the arranging and mastering of photos for Portraits, Anthology III (still need a title), Immersive Van Gogh and COVID Winter, then create the pages on Scribus, then the final post-production work that results in a finished .epub ebook file. As always, I do plan on creating a paperback edition, but that will require use of Adobe InDesign, which I am currently studying.
A gallery of 30 photos from Lost in the Long COVID Winter follows just after the jump: