Red Cliff, Bonavista Bay

Red Cliff, Bonavista Bay is one of my favorite places EVER to visit.

It, along with its sister communities of Open Hall and Tickle Cove offer some of the most stunning scenery for photographers anywhere in Newfoundland. Be it the awe inspiring sea arch in Tickle Cove, the old yet graceful church in Open Hall or the stunning rocks that dot the shore in Red Cliff, they all offer something unique to discover, and trust me when I say this, no two visits are the same…

Oh, did I mention the absolute rock star sunsets in the area?

May be an image of sky, twilight, ocean and nature
The sun sets in a wharf in Red Cliff Bonavista Bay

I was having a bit of a rough day yesterday. It looks like I wasn’t successful in the residency in Twillingate, and while that wasn’t a critical need for me, it would have been an amazing experience that I was looking very forward to sharing with you all. I also am not having much success with the Kickstarter I have going. Don’t get me wring, almost 40 supporters is an amazing feat, very pleased and very appreciative of the folks who continue to show me support each and every day, but it doesn’t look like my target will be met, and that is kind of critical to my success with the Where Once We Stood project.

It puts a lot of weight on the outcome of my ArtsNL grant application. If that falls through, along with the other items coming up short, I DO have an almost existential dread of what I will be able to do and where I am going to be.

I am sure it will work out fine, but yesterday I was feeling it so I did what I always do. I escape through photography, and, just recently, through video.

Red Cliff was where I ended up. I thought I would share a couple of the videos and then a few of the photos that came out of the trip.

I am on many media platforms these days in an effort to promote both my work and myself so each time I do a video I end up doing multiple formats. Its a good exercise really, as each platform has it’s own unique requirements. Twitter and Tik Tok have duration limits for example, and TikTok has the added bonus of having a different format as well.

So, lets start with the TikTok videos… I created two, one for the tranquility sounds, the other to show some of my photo work…

First the tranquil one…

Red Cliff Meditation, April 29, 2021

And next the video I created to showcase some of the photos I took in the area, those photos will be posted at the end of this blog as well.

Red Cliff Photo, April 29, 2021

And lastly I created a longer YouTube video to help showcase the area a little….

Red Cliff Visit, April 29, 2021

I am really enjoying video work, getting more comfortable with the editing process. Currently just using Adobe Premiere Rush but am teaching myself how to use DaVinci as well. There are a few items I need to improve my film work, a good external microphone and a gyroscopic gimbal are the top two on the list, but I can 100% see an evolution from my first videos to these. I was really intimidated by it for some reason. Next thing it to shot some with the DLSR and get some different effects and moods.

Video is the one thing I am really looking forward to exploring this summer. I will also need to get a drone at some point as well, if ever my work becomes profitable.

For now though my biggest focus remains on the photography. Red Cliff offer so much in that regard, and specifically related to Where Once We Stood.

This cluster of houses, they don’t have many winters left in them. For me the personify the profound sadness these buildings can hold. I talked about it in a previous blog, about how dwellings in particular seem to carry the pain of losing their purpose, of becoming empty of life and memory, these buildings just hit me in the soul.

Here’s a sampling of the photos I have played with from this trip…

Alone, Red Cliff, 2021
Silent Witness, Red Cliff, 2021
Out of Gas, Red Cliff, 2021

I hope you enjoyed the videos and the photos. Visiting Red Cliff, producing the work and sharing it has certainly helped improve my mood and my optimism for the future. I simply cannot wait to visit other locations and collect all these images, cultivate and curate them, and share them with all of you.

I could use your help, as always, getting the project going. There is the Kickstarter Project, which is only active for less than 40 days. This is the major source of capital for startup of this venture. If you can spare a few dollars, or even a share, it would be very much appreciated.

You can always buy a print from me here, shipping is free across Canada!

I am also pre-booking my 2022 Calendar, you can purchase those here, this is my biggest sales item of the year and the success of much of my efforts hinge on its success!

Thanks for much for your support and kind words, and excitement over the project, I cannot WAIT to present a full session to you guys, with the photos, art edits, videos etc, its going to be awesome!

Five MUST see locations

Good day folks.

Been a bit since I have posted a blog. Had some unexpected vehicle issues that left me grounded for over a week along with some other housekeeping issues. ‘

A word about blog frequency. Once I get a better understanding of where I am going to be financially, which is dependent on several factors, the Kickstarter success or lack there of, the ArtsNL grant and an artist residency I have applied for, I will strive to post at least twice weekly. If all my funding comes through there will be at at least 10-15 destination blogs. These blogs will have a video component, photos, both the travel documentary type and the fine art type, as well as some general information about the location. There is also a possibility that there will be some interviews etc. as well.

Maybe even a blooper reel lol.

So, here are 5 places I am 100% visiting this summer regardless of level of funding. These might end up being the ONLY 5 places, again dependent on funding, but these 5 should give me some very good results.

St. Brendans, Eastport Peninsula – St. Brendans is a small town located on Cottle Island. Accessible only by ferry from Burnside or by other boat transportation, it had a population of under 150 in the last census. There are a number of other small communities on the 10 mile long island , mostly, from my understanding, now home to cottages and older structures.

Copyright Cal Tobin/CBC

St. Brendans is a perfect place to start my project, it is a community that went against the flow of resettlement and held fast. It will give a unique perspective of what these places across the island might look like if resettlement didn’t force the relocation of so many.

Irelands Eye, Trinity Bay Located on a small island in Trinity Bay, Irelands Eye is accessible only by boat. There are tour companies, such as Gypsy Sea Adventures, who offer tours of the island It is accessible only by boat. The first record of settlement was in 1886.

Ireland's Eye, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland
Copyright MUN

By 1956 there was a population of nearly 100 living on the island, it had a school shop, post office etc. The community was resettled to neighboring communities in on 1965. This community is in my back yard so to speak and while there aren’t a lot of structure left from the original settlement, there are a number of gravesites, foundations and other relics that will make this an exciting part of my journey this summer.

St. Kyrans, Placentia Bay – I’ll be honest, there is one thing above all else that is drawing me to St. Kyrans. And that is the Mary of the Assumption Church, or what remains of it. This is a haunting place, the photos I have seen are a magnet for my soul. I HAVE to visit there, I HAVE to take these photos.

photo credit to William Arthur Ward 2015

I cannot wait to point my lens at this beauty. St. Kyrans was a thriving community that was lost as a direct result of resettlement with the population moving to mainland towns and harbours in the region.

Merasheen, Placentia Bay – This one holds a personal connection for me. Merasheen is a town located on Merasheen Island, Placentia Bay and also happens the be the home of my wiles family, the Pomroys. Merasheen was one the largest communities to be affected by resettlement, and certainly the biggest located in Placentia Bay.

Merasheen
Photo credit MUN

It enjoyed an ice free harbour and supported a fish plant, shops, churches, schools. It had a population of around 300 souls when it was resettled in the mid 1960’s. Most of the inhabitants ended up in Placentia, Jersey Side, Freshwater etc. The people who descend from those families retain a strong sense of home for Merasheen and there are regular reunions with many summer home, cabins and cottages dotting the landscape. Most of the original structures are gone, however, with such a strong sense of history and my personal connection I feel its a must go place on my list.

Change Islands, Notre Dame Bay – Actually a group of three smaller islands, two of which are populated, and third that isn’t. Originally settled in the 1700’s Change Islands is in many ways frozen in time. the communities residents take great pride in preserving the past and many of the out buildings, wharves, stages and homes look today as they did 100 years ago. It has a peak population of over 1000 souls at the beginning of the 20th century but has seen that number decline to about 350 today. This place is a project in and of itself and I anticipate spending several days in the area.

File:Change Islands, Newfoundland.jpg
Copyright: Stephen Booth 2011

So there you have it, my top five. This are communities I will be visiting regardless of successful funding. I will make it happen on my own. As I have said many times, this project is very important to me and is of critical importance to the sharing, recording and preserving of our cultural and historical identity.

I look forward to sharing my adventures to these and other communities.

I could use your help, as always, getting the project going. There is the Kickstarter Project, which is only active for less than 40 days. This is the major source of capital for startup of this venture. If you can spare a few dollars, or even a share, it would be very much appreciated.

You can always buy a print from me here, shipping is free across Canada!

I am also pre-booking my 2022 Calendar, you can purchase those here, this is my biggest sales item of the year and the success of much of my efforts hinge on its success!

Thanks for much for your support and kind words, and excitement over the project, I cannot WAIT to present a full session to you guys, with the photos, art edits, videos etc, its going to be awesome!

Why this is important

So, why is Where Once We Stood important?

I can come at this from a couple of angles.

Lets start with the practical. These places, these objects, that connect us to our past are disappearing at an alarming and accelerating rate. If we don’t get out and preserve them, at least in photos, they will be gone forever. The very real opportunities to tell stories to our children, prompted by their own questions, is fading from the landscape. The opportunity, as you drive be an old stage, boat or house to engage in conversation is fading.

In less that a year, the places in the photos below, the objects, the homes, have all disappeared. Either through final collapse, removal or being swept away. In just one short year, in the area I frequent there are many more examples of history fading.

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Now, I know that many folks say, so what, its junk and an eyesore.

I prefer not to see it that way, I prefer to see the beauty, the dignity and the weight of history in these places. Someone built these places, lived in them, loved in them, and in many cases died in them. They deserve to be treated and documented with a measure of respect and dignity.

Second, I need to do this for me.

My mental and physical struggles are not news to anyone who has been following me for some time. For those of you who are new here are the Coles notes.

I fell while away for work meetings. Broke my back. Eventually lost my Management Job as a direct result of the injury. Declared insolvency, lost a house and my credit, had two spinal surgeries, now suffer from chronic pain due to scar tissue impinging on my spinal cord and struggle with my mental health, depression and anxiety, ever since.

Photography is my salvation. Photography saved my life…. period…..

This Project gives me purpose, the books, photos, blogs etc present to me an opportunity to earn a living, to support my family, to return some portion of my self worth. It also confirms that my voice is valid, that I have something to say that people want to hear.

So there’s that.

I’ll be talking more about the mental recovery aspect of this project once we start the actual project. I will be dedicating at least one live broadcast on TikTok from sites I am working on the mental health, how being the field helps me, how I am doing etc.

In a very real sense, the subtitle of this project could be “A man rebuilding himself for the future by documenting the decay of the past”

I could use your help, as always, getting the project going. There is the Kickstarter Project, which is only active for less than 40 days. This is the major source of capital for startup of this venture. If you can spare a few dollars, or even a share, it would be very much appreciated.

You can always buy a print from me here, shipping is free across Canada!

I am also pre-booking my 2022 Calendar, you can purchase those here, this is my biggest sales item of the year and the success of much of my efforts hinge on its success!

Thanks for much for your support and kind words, and excitement over the project, I cannot WAIT to present a full session to you guys, with the photos, art edits, videos etc, its going to be awesome!

Where once we stood

I am itching to get to work on this project. I have been working at the concept for some time, I think about it every hour of every day. Its been two years since I had the idea of “Unsettled” and even went to so far as to create a sample webpage for it. You can find that here if you are interested, its a little dated but it does gives a sense of the project and how long its been percolating in my mind.

It’s been documented in this earlier post, but I was gutted when I discovered that someone else had done a similar project some years ago and even worse that the name “Unsettled” was associated with it. I felt as if some of the wind was let out of my sails, that my project lost some its shine because someone else worked towards the same outcome.

This is completely the wrong attitude to take.

What I SHOULD be looking at, and WILL be looking at, is the fact that this project, created 20 years ago by a very good artist still resonates today, that the photos he took all those years ago are STILL be used in current exhibitions and publications. How exciting it is for me as a photographer to be exploring a theme that carries such weight over the years, how exciting for me to explore the areas that have seen another 20 years of time heaped upon them, to see the relentless march of time on these places and share them with you!

How humbling to think about what these places will look like in another 20 years and think I might inspire another artist to revisit them and do explorations and expressions of their own?

Amazing, what an amazing time to be creating, what an amazing place to be creating in!

So, what kind of images can you expect to see come out of MY project? Well, you can expect a variety of treatments, of a variety of subjects. The theme of my project has shifted a little, and I think its a shift that is to the betterment of the presentation. Its not only going to be a reflection of the changes wrought by resettlement, though that will still resonate throughout the works, it will be a reflection of ALL things left behind when change dictates they must be. They will be expressions of where once we stood. They might be homes, churches, stages, wharfs, vehicles, anything that speaks of being forgotten, of being left behind, of being faded from memory.

Here’s a few examples of what I am striving to present to you….

Old homes in Red Cliff, Bonavista Bay
The wreck of the Mary Ruth, Southport, Trinity Bat. This no longer exists.
St. James Anglican Church, Kings Cove, Bonavista Bay. Deconsecrated, now being renovated
Trinity East, Trinity Bay. Collapsed interior of a furnished home
An old shop bench, private property
I Drove All Night
Broken down truck, private property

As you can see, the subject matter is varied, but each one tells a story of being forgotten, left behind…. We need to be reminded that these places exist, that they still matter, that the story they hold in their memories are worth telling.

I am so very much excited to get this work produced, to discover these forgotten or fading memories.

I won’t close every blog by talking about this, but for the next little while I have to. As an artist who is trying to make this his job, I could use a little help. I’m not looking for something for nothing. I am more than happy to share my work digitally with you all with no recompense. That being said, if you would like to help produce these works in a book, to create an exhibition of these works and help an artist take a step towards self sustainment , I ask that you please check out and support my Kickstarter.

A couple of quick updates.

I now have a very cool new feature going. I’ll have it pinned to the top of the site in the very near future. but for now you can find it here. This is MapHub, its an amazingly useful tool that allows me to share with you where I have been, what’s even cooler, is as the map gets a little more filled you will be able to explore and link back to the associated blogs etc. Its an amazing interactive way for you all to explore what I have explored.

How amazing technology is.

Speaking of technology, the other great feature that I am so happy is being provided is conversion of these blogs to audio and being made available through various podcast site. The link to each podcast in the series can be found at the top of each entry. This makes me happy beyond words. Availability of works to the visually impaired is something I want to ensure happens. It might seem ironic, given the fact that I am a visual artist working through photography, but there is some logic in it.

I am legally blind in my right eye. My biggest fear is that I lose my vision in both eyes. It’s part of the reason I want to express the world I see now while I can still see it. To be clear, my vision in my left eye isn’t deteriorating at this point, but I am painfully aware that I am 50% reduced. Its important that folks can still understand what I am doing, at least through my words.

I want to thank you all for the support to this point, the kind words, the sharing, the input, the help through Kickstarter, buy purchasing my work. It will help me continue to tell and share the story of Where Once We Stood, it will help me ensure that history is preserved, that memories are brought forward, that some of our past is not forgotten.

In the Details…

There’s no place like home – Tickle Cove, Bonavista Bay – 2021

This project is a self portrait.

It 100% is a self portrait.

I identify with the abandoned places I visit, investigate, converse with and shoot. They are me, I am them.

These places were of ultimate purpose and importance, there is no more vital function for anything in this world to have than to provide comfort, shelter, safety. A place where the private and intimate stories of families take place. A home is as much a part of the family as is is the vessel that contains them. It has life, it has purpose, it is strong and reliable and gives its dwellers safe haven from the world.

It is both womb and fortress, it is as vital to our survival as the blood in our veins.

Until is not. There is NOTHING more tragic than to see a structure lose its purpose, to be devoid of family, to have its rooms be empty. No laughter, no crying, no sounds of love. Paint peels, wallpaper hangs, floors sag and roofs bow. Windows become cloudy as cataracts on a eye, panes crack, the weather comes in. Boards rot, walls fall, foundations crumble and what was once the protector of families, the shelter from the world, is gone.

Its tragic, it’s a slow lonely demise of these once strong places.

Yes, they are self portraits.

I have been struggling with mental and physical health for some time now. I was once strong, capable, a provider and a hard worker. I worked in positions where I offered safety, shelter for my staff, I shielded them, protected them and gave them a safe haven. I wasn’t always perfect, but neither were the folks who worked for me, thats ok though, I still remained there for them. Until I wasn’t. I am unable to work in those positions now, I cannot commit to a schedule, I don’t know from one day to the next where my pain levels will be. I am collapsing, my foundations are crumbling and he who was once the provider, the shelter from the word, is gone.

Don’t worry, that’s not the end of the story.

There is a dignity and a beauty to these places, and, I believe, there is a dignity and a beauty to my life now. It might not be the conventional beauty of the young and strong, but its the elegant beauty of grace in the face of change, adversity and deterioration.

I seek out these places NOT to record the deterioration, the decay. I seek out these places to discover and record the beauty in them. To celebrate what they were as well as finding the joy in what they have become. In all stages of life, be it the life of a home, a town, a person, there are different aspects of grace to find. Youth has speed and strength and optimism, our middle years bring us love of family, children, career, age brings is wisdom and experience, the ability to appreciate the smallest of things. These are the moments I want to record and share with ” Where Once We Stood”, I want to tell the story of the lives lived, in all its stages, and through that work tell my story of the life I am living, though all its stages and changes.

You can help me tell this story.

I need encouragement and support this coming summer in particular to start on this path. I am confident that once I have a body of work, a book, two books, a show and the notoriety that goes with it, I will be fine. I won’t feel the stress and anxiety of needing to do something, at a core level, and not be able to do it because I lack the resources to make it happen. There is a great emptiness that appears in me when I think about places I need to go, forgotten places I need to help people remember but I can’t go there because of a lack of the resources I need.

You can provide support by reading my blog entries, sharing them, retweeting my work, liking it, telling your friends, your family about it. Get the word out. There is untold power in being “known” and with it comes the benefit of becoming legitimate. That goes a long way in the application of funding, shows, exhibitions, publishing deals. It costs nothing to do and is the single biggest investment you can make in a creators life.

You can also help by purchasing something from me.

There are always prints and canvases available in my shop. In fact there will be a section in my portfolio what will have the photos I capture during “Where Once We Stood” available to purchase. My work is printed by the premium ART HOUSE in Newfoundland and shipping in Canada is free.

You can purchase one of my Annual Calendars, they are now available for pre-purchase and will be available for mailing in June of this year. This venture, the calendars, is the single biggest thing I do to support my craft. You can help make it possible for me to reinvest into my project and get the resources I need by purchasing this Calendar. The wonderful thing about the calendar is that it was curated by YOU, my social media following, you all chose the photos for each month, it was truly a collaborative event and it is special because of it.

For a limited time you can help with my Kickstarter. There’s only 44 days left as of the time of this entry, and there is a huge hill to climb to get to the target I have set, but I am confident we can get there. If you know of a company, or a altruistic group or individual who would be interested in this project, or if you are indeed one of those folks, please consider backing. There are some amazing rewards to be had including free signed copies of the books and a voice in what gets selected as cover work etc.

You can also buy me a coffee at any time. I love this platform and I myself use it to purchase coffees for fellow creators all the time. Its been critical to my success and ability to grow my kit. I was able to purchase video resources through the kindness of my coffee crew.

This is a story that I need to tell. It’s a personal story I know, its me finding myself reflected in the places I shoot, but I am hopeful, certain even, that many of you can find yourselves in these works as well. I hope you enjoy the journey, my promise is to make it as engaging and provoking as I can. I am always open to discourse as well. If you at any point of the project have questions, please, ask away.

I will also be performing live interactive sessions from some of the sites I visit this summer, I love interacting with the folks who are enjoying my work, or even the ones who aren’t. We never learn if we don’t hear from and interact with folks who are NOT in our camp.

Thanks for reading this morning, and thanks for your support.

Thank you for helping me explore myself, our province and our shared history and connections.

Change is good

Its ironic in a way that things played out the way they did. I ended up having to make changes to the title of my project because it was already in use by a photographer of some renown, Scott Walden. He published a book almost 20 years ago depicting the EXACT same subject matter as I am striving to do and called his collected works Unsettled.

I would imagine, he liked the name for many of the same reasons I did. It’s a play on resettled, it speaks to a feeling of unease, of things left incomplete, of lives interrupted.

Sadly, I knew NONE of this prior to media interviews announcing my project, creating a Kickstarter and registering domains among other things. When it was discovered I had a near complete anxiety driven breakdown. Mostly out of fear that someone would think I was plagiarizing Mr. Walden’s work.

This is not the case. I should have done better background research before going all out, but I genuinely was in the dark as to its existence. I was further shocked to see the similarity in styles and approach. Mr. Walden used a pure black and white esthetic in his work, and I used the same in my first publication of Unsettled, check out these two photos, one is Mr. Walden’s, one is mine.

It’s startling how similar these pieces are. Again, it’s an active illustration of why I was so rattled by this discovery.

I immediately contacted Mr. Walden, explained what I had just discovered and offered to change the name of my project, or, at the very least, give him some sort of accreditation in the book. He contacted me back and after discussion and explanation it was decided that it would be mutually beneficial for us to go ahead and change the name. This would avoid confusion, and would also alleviate any suspicion of impropriety.

So, change we did, to Where Once We Stood – What Was Left Behind.

I am in love with the title. Its a play on the “Ode to Newfoundland” where the line is “where once they stood.”. I prefer the We, it gives is ownership of the history. The other thing I love is that its not tethered as tightly to resettlement. While resettlement was a major source of upheaval in Newfoundland history, change in communities and population densities affected places all over, not just ones that were deemed not viable and resettled. This new title allows more room to stretch and grow the subject matter and the aesthetic.

So, that drama, all of my own construction has moved beyond us now and we are starting afresh. Mr. Walden continues to do amazing work, and I will continue to strive towards my project becoming a reality. I can only hope to reach the same level of quality and beauty of the project be Mr. Walden.

I look forward to sharing images from “Where Once We Stood” with you all.

Guts are back in now….

What a goddamn day it was…… sorry for the profanity, but that’s just what it was, a goddamn day.

First, an apology, for the massive and public overreaction I had to discovering that someone had done a book of the same theme as I had in mind, and had named the collected works the same as my working title for one of the TWO books I am producing…

Really? Well duh… OF COURSE it’s been done before. Resettlement and the fallout surrounding it was a hammer blow to the cultural and societal identity of Newfoundland and Labrador, it wrought seismic changes to the lives of the people who lived and loved in hundreds of small communities dotted across the province. It left 300 communities abandoned in a blink, over 30,000 people were taken from all they knew and put somewhere else. Churches, schools, business were left to crumble to dust. Many homes were dismantled or floated to new locations.

OF COURSE someone thought to photograph the aftermath 30 years or so later….

I’m just disappointed I didn’t discover it sooner….

So, the project continues. I am still awaiting a reply from Mr. Walden re: the Unsettled name. I have a couple of options in mind should he wish I change the title. I will honor that request and I will also likely include in my acknowledgements the hard work completed by Mr. Walden 20 years ago in his project. In fact, as a homage to the work he has done, I am considering visiting some of the sites he photographed and doing MY style of shot, of the same location, 20 years on. I don’t know if those works will make it to the fine art book or not, but they would certainly make it here to the blog.

So, again, sorry for the collapse. I have talked at length about my mental fragility and I am trying really hard to temper my reactions to things. I expect the worst always, and its a horrible way to live. I think that’s why I am so appreciative of kindness and generosity, it always comes as a complete shock to me and leaves me stunned and giddy with positive emotion. That’s exactly how I felt at the end of the day yesterday, the communities outpouring of support and encouragement was nothing short of breath taking in its power and scope. I received emails, messages and even phone calls telling me that the work I am doing is valuable, that it brings some respite to folks in their day to day.

Its all I ever want, is to make people happy…. myself included.

Now, I want to talk about something that’s kind of bothering me. Not in an oh my god the world is collapsing, I can’t go on, this isn’t fair, I’m picking up my ball and going home variety of bothered but bothered none-the-less….

Where are the Newfoundland influencers and the Newfoundlanders with a voice loud enough to make a difference to this project?

I don’t understand why none of the Newfoundlanders who could reach so many are so silent on this. Maybe they just don’t know about it? Again, this isn’t about me now, isn’t about me having a successful Kickstarter or ANYTHING really to do with ME. Ok, well, maybe a little to do with me, as it is my project, and I am the Newfoundlander who is trying to preserve some of our history while trying REALLY hard to carve out an existence from doing it, providing for his family and reinventing who he is and what he does at 50 due to the adverse and long term chronic affects of two spinal surgeries, job loss, bankruptcy and mental health issues…… DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP BREATH lol….

But yeah. I know when if I become more influential I will always look for opportunities to advance the dreams and projects of folks who are struggling, who have something important to say. Heck, I do that now with the little voice I do have. I want to be clear though, these folks, the celebs of the world, the movers and the shakers, they own me or you NOTHING… NOTHING….. they worked their collective asses off, hustled every day to get to where they are, the level they are. They are to be commended. I’m just surprised that after the media articles, the tags, the shares, the chatter than none of the folks in that circle has done as much as share the project AND what the project is about there hasn’t been more support….

What a friggin ego I have hey? To think that they would do that, to be surprised they haven’t.

Call it what you will, trust me, I have enough self doubts and self hates to balance out that little bit of “WHY AREN’T YOU HELPING ME” ego shout… I could take up couch space in an therapists office for months and talk about crap I am dealing with before we ever got close to the positive part of my ego.

Anyway, if your are a famous entity, throw my project some love would ya? It’s going to be awesome, just like me…. oh crap, there’s that ego again….

Friggin thing….

Gutted

I am sitting here, in a weird mental state…

First, thank you to everyone who has supported, shared, liked or encouraged my project. It means a lot to me to have so many of you believe that this is worthwhile. Some of you have gone well above and beyond in trying to help. There aren’t enough words to say how I feel about that.

Today, I was asked by a person on Twitter, if I was aware of the book “Places Lost”. I said I had heard of it, but I was frankly unaware of the details. I immediately however went to Amazon to look it up, with the intent of perhaps buying a copy. I have been, as many of you know, trying to help out fellow artists when and where I can lately. In addition, if it was something that I could use to help me in my project, than all the better.

When I saw the listing, read the description, I immediately suffered a panic attack.

This talented photographer, Scott Walden, almost 20 year ago, produced a book of the same format, same theme as I have intended for mine, worse, for me anyway, he had called his collection and subsequent show “Unsettled”…

My world was slipping out from in under me….

I was mortified….

I was shocked…

I was rattled….

I still am…..

I immediately found Mr. Walden’s webpage which thankfully had an email contact on it and wrote him the following letter.

Mr Walden.

I am writing you today with my stomach clenched and my heart racing.

I am a photographer, a graduate from the Fine Arts Program at NSCAD.  For the past 2 years while I recovered from spinal surgeries I have been formulating the idea for a book, two books in fact. 

One is Finding Forgotten Places, which is going to be a collection a travel type blogs while I visit many off the beaten path places in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The second is going to be a collection of fine art edits of the photographs collected on those travels that I intended to call Unsettled – What We Leave behind.

I was recommended your book, Places Lost,  today and when I visited Amazon to look for the title, well, you can likely understand why I am writing you with my stomach clenched and my heart racing.

Not only did you do a similar book, I see that you called your collected work Unsettled.

I want to let you know that I 100% had no idea that you had done this, the approach you took, the titles you used, NOTHING.  When I saw it I was shocked and more than a little rattled.

I have been working on this concept, registering domain names, titles etc. For over two years now but I don’t want to proceed with the Unsettled title if it is going to be stepping on your previous work, I am willing to change the title should you wish.  I am going to continue with the project.  Like you felt at the time you did your work I’m sure, I feel that this is a story that MUST be told, I am compelled to tell it.  I have applied for grants and other sources to complete this project, and most importantly, this has now become a part of who I am.

I felt compelled to reach out to you and talk about it.

Your work is wonderful, we have different treatments of the subjects but we both, I feel, approach them with a respect for what they are and what they represent.

In short I felt I needed to ask your permission to continue using the Unsettled name.  I would be more than happy to credit you in the book with the name and as a source of inspiration for the works I am producing.

Again, I am so sorry this happened, they say great minds think alike, and while I can’t attest to the greatness of MY mind, I assure, this was purely a case where two creative minds arrived at the same conclusion and felt compelled to do the same work.

All the very best to you and I wish you continued success with your endeavours.

Cory Babstock

p.s. Here is a link to a recent video I did where I narrated a sample work I compiled as a concept piece for Unsettled to give you an indication of the work I am doing.  I can also be found on twitter should you wish to see the history of my project.

https://unsettlednl.ca/

I said it in the letter, I’ll say it again, I had NO idea that this book was what it was, that I was familiar with the title only as I saw it in my research and had NO clue that Mr. Walden had a series of shows under the name of Unsettled.

I am 100% prepared to change the name of my project. I am awaiting response from Mr. Walden.

I am writing this publicly because I wanted YOU, the folks who have been with me on the journey to know this happened. I also wanted to be clear that this was a case of two separate artists wanting to tell an important story separated by 20 years. That I had no more knowledge of Mr. Walden’s work than he has of mine.

I write this because I don’t want anyone to think I am trying to raise money on stealing someone else’s concept. I am shaking with anxiety as I write this, I value honesty and integrity above all else and I know, on the surface, this looks like I am not only taking Mr. Walden’s overall idea, but I am also taking his titles and words….

This is NOT the case, it simply isn’t.

I never intended this to become something that caused me stress, grief and anxiety. Just today, I noticed that a handful of people, people who have been kind to me, shared my work, bought work from me, no longer follow me. I discovered this completely by accident as I saw postings they had done, visited their profile to see what else they had going on and noticed they no longer followed me. My paranoia, anxiety and dread driven mind immediately made a connection that they stopped following me because they were aware of Mr. Walden’s work, that they thought I was stealing it or that I was asking for too much, too often and they were just sick or it.

I admit, logically, that this might not be the case. I have been through so much though, I was so destroyed mentally and physically, that my mind keeps wanting to lead me on the path of the worse case scenario.

I hope that the way I have openly and honestly conducted myself in my interactions with you all will put your mind to ease on this point.

As for the future of my project, well, its still going to happen. It’s still an important story that needs to be told, and one that I am very passionate about. It needs to be told, it will help my mental health, it will give me a legacy project and one I can build on.

The Kickstarter, I’m not sure what will happen there. I think I am going to let it run to its end but I will no longer be promoting it. I likely should never have started it in the first place, given the reaction to the initial GoFund me I executed. I was convinced to try however, and I figured that if I was passionate about what I was doing, and open about why I was doing it, there was a chance it would work.

Instead its caused me even more anxiety, fear of failure, of telling folks this was a project worth investing in only to have it fall dramatically short of its target. I lay awake at night thinking about what I can do to try and make it a success and suffering flashes of panic and anxiety that I haven’t had in some time when days pass with no backers.

Then this discovery today….

I feel like folks will think I am using the good work of Mr. Walden to raise money for my own project.

I think I am going to lay low for a little while, at least until I hear from Mr. Walden. I think I am going to try and get out in the field more, take more photos, write a little more for the book and keep my fingers crossed that I pick up enough business through calendar and art sales to make it.

Again, I am sorry if I caused anyone discomfort, all I ever wanted was to be successful, to gain back some of the respect and dignity I lost over the past 2-3 years and redeem myself.

I want to let you know my integrity is intact, I am who I am, I am an honest creator who cares about this province, its history, and the folks who live in it.

All the best.

Media – Updated Sept 5, 2021

I’ve had the opportunity to talk to the media several times regarding not only my work, but also about the kindness I have been shown. Here are my media clips from the past year.

CBC Radio – Sept 5, 2022 Weekend Arts Magazine – Spoke to Steve about my current work, the direction I am heading and the new NFT opportunities for artists to showcase and earn from their work.

CBC Radio – August 20, 2022 Crosstalk – This one meant a lot to me, it was about overcoming adversity and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

CBC Radio – August 14, 2021 Weekend Arts Magazine – Interviewed on Location at the Beaches Arts and Heritage Centre discussing a display of my work there.

CBC Radio – July 8th, 2021 -On the Go, spoke with Martin Jones about adversity and my residency

CBC Morning Show – Musician Jordan Harnum and photographer Cory Babstock were supposed to travel to Twillingate for the summer to work, but their excitement around consistent summer gigs has turned into lockdown uncertainty, due to the threat of Covid-19 in the area.

Unsettled – Saltwire, April 10, 2021

Abandoned Places – Saltwire, January 15, 2021

Annual CBC FeedNL Morning Show – Dec 11, 2020 ( My part kicks in at 21:35 but I encourage you to listen to the whole program, some real stories of hope in there )

I am always thrilled when folks take an interest in me, my story, and most importantly, my work. If you would like to talk to me, feel free to reach out!

Unsettled – A Narrative

Thought it would be appropriate for the first post on the NEW Unsettled blog to be a reading of the book that inspired the greater project. This page will be where the “travel blog” portion of Unsettled will come to live. That being said, the “fine art” edits will make appearances as well from time to time, hard to keep them separate truth be told.

Hope you stick around, subscribe to the blog. It’s going to be an interesting summer!

Want to help me get on the road? Here’s the link to my Kickstarter!