You may have noticed that I haven’t posted any new pictures for a while.  I have to admit, that since getting the Sony e-book, I have fallen into a state of literary gluttony.  Which is to say, I have been reading instead of shooting.  Everything from Stoker’s Dracula, to Nostromo by Joseph Conrad to Wodehouse.  And when I haven’t been reading, or fulfilling orders (which I have to confess I’ve not been as prompt as usual) – I’ve been collecting more books than any sane person could read in a lifetime.

The last time this happened to me was when I had access to the stacks at University of Buffalo.  As a college student, I could wander the stacks to my heart’s content, stumbling upon new books and sitting at a window near where it was always snowing – and reading like a fiend – only to look up when a pretty co-ed walked by.  Sometimes even that didn’t wake me from the printed words.

Early on – when people used to ask for advice about photography – I would tell them not to study photography but to read great works of literature.  I don’t think many would take me up on this advice – but I’ve always felt that your art is greatly influenced by your imagination, and your imagination, in order to stay healthy – needs to be constantly fed.

What happened here, was that I suddenly had access to this ever-expanding library that was filled with my favorite authors, and where one selection would lead (much like the web) to another book and that one ad finitum.  I’ve been like a kid in a candy store.

It also brings me back to another time in my life – when as a kid I would read everything I could get my hands on – including at one point when I had run out of my usual fare of Hardy Boy and Tarzan books – books on history.  One book – A Child’s History of the World – enthralled me for weeks.  I can still remember the chapter on the French Revolution because it was so gory.   Did you know, for example, that there was so much blood from Madame the Knife, that special sewers were built to carry the blood away?

I’m sure this infatuation will cool down soon, as infatuations do – but I have to confess that I’m just waiting for warmer weather so that I can go to the park on a nice sunny day – put a blanket out – and lose myself with my latest sweets.  And, of course, where there’s reading – the urge to write comes back – and I’ve been spending at least an hour each day in the morning working on what I can only call my memoirs; though really it’s just a bunch of short tales, loosely connected by the fact that I’m writing them.

When the first tale is ready – I will have something more finished than my usual blog posts which as you know are just written like automatic writing.

All of which is to say – that the eBook opened up new worlds for me – and not having much money – and liking to keep the books around (as opposed to returning them to a library) – I am very happy I sprung for the 505.  I may even buy one of the fancier covers for it.

I write this – as usual – just to give some idea of what I’ve been up to lately; which is usually what you get in blogs.  I don’t have a single complaint about the device itself.  I’m completely oblivous at this point to how I’m turning pages, or looking for titles.  It’s become as natural as turning the pages of a real book.

Right now, I’m waiting for my New York Public Library Card to arrive by mail.  Once I have that – I’ll have access to another river (tempted to call it the Amazon but I won’t) of literature.  I’m curious to see whether the Library checkout allows me to save the book on my computer to read whenever I want.  I’ve already downloaded many books that are locked with the Adobe Digital software – but they are all readable so long as I don’t try to put them onto another device.

Now I head off to bed – waiting to see what Jeeves is going to say next.


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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

7 thoughts on “Reading”

  1. I do this kind of thing from time to time. I call it ‘getting distracted.’ I’m going through it now a little bit as I try to get my website, the one with my galleries and such, up and running and working with the web software I have is a little frustrating. I’m very impatient with most web page software. I trained people to use Quark Xpress for a while and the more like that program web-page layout programs are, the better for me. I want to HTML or the CSS or whatever just to be invisible for me. So I tend to get diverted to things where I get more immediate positive feedback. Do you think its the reading, per se, or something else that’s driving you to get some distance from the photography?

  2. Dave, I know good Czech writer you should get his ebooks called Franz Kafka. You ever heard? He was born in Prague my city but die long time ago before I was born. I like best his ebook Metamorphosis. Is about a man he wake up in morning and becomes a big bug and has to hide under his bed all the time. Ha Ha! They name big hotel in Prague from this ebook. In Czech Republic we had president who was writer for theatre call Vaclav Havel but he get lunge cancer from smoke too much cigarettes and also his colon breaked apart so he is no more the president. I dont like Havel ebooks much as Kafka. I like read ebooks of dead writers to. Maybe one day I see you reading in park and bring you Kafka real book not ebook!

  3. Hi Chris —
    I go through these phases that are as natural as the phases of the moon or some other natural phenomena.

    In a word – the reading is relaxing – and I want to be taken away from the photographing for a while. I do this with music every few years.

    Then I come back to shooting with fresh eyes; or fresh energy.

    I wish I could use inDesign as easily as I do html editing 🙂

  4. Hi Dijana —

    I know Kafka very well – I mean his stories and novels. Believe it or not, a long time ago I worked at the publishing house (Schocken Books) that publish all of Kafka’s works. Have you ever read his diaries? They are absolutely amazing. His was a sad life. Died of TB I believe. He also never had that much time to write – as he work in an insurance office full-time. A very interesting life though. Did they really name a hotel, The Metamorphisis? Dave

  5. Yeah, I mean, this is my personal limitation, I understand, but the page design I have in my head is always quite a ways from what I can get on-screen without lots of work that I’m not sure how to do. I’m an impatient guy by nature and that works against me in lots of cases, but in this one specifically.

  6. Working for a university with the largest library in the state, I am likewise blessed with an abundance of literary riches. It’s a great feeling to wander through the stacks and find a whole row of books on your favorite subject or by an author you admire. Fueling your imagination definitely builds creativity. I had one college class that covered some photography basics (camera basics, rule of thirds, other composition issues), but my real education in photography has come from all the books of photos I’ve been able to pore over. Studying good photographs makes my own work better, by osmosis. For instance, when you look through some of Cartier-Bresson’s books, such as PHOTOPORTRAITS, the importance of putting a person in context really sinks in. PHOTOGRAPHS by Eudora Welty, and the lengthy interview that it includes, are enlightening, too. My library card has granted me access to Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Walker Evans, Michael Kenna, Clyde Butcher, John Sexton, Kathryn Tucker Windham, Dorothea Lange, Ken Elkins… (sorry, we don’t have any Beckerman books yet)… but it really is like that potato chip commercial: once you pop, you can’t stop!

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