Jan and the Mountain

My mom jokingly called this photograph “Jan im Kartoffelfeld” which translates as Jan in the potato field. In fact he is sitting on a mountain of pebbles and rocks right near the Cape Cod Canal. When I walked up to join him I stumbled and wobbled as tiny stones shifted and rolled under my feet. The irony of this doesn’t escape me. He is my rock, sitting on a bunch of rocks and I grasp my Rollei as I try to catch my balance to join him.


I can’t believe I actually did it, but I did: I joined Twitter. I’ve been tweeting in obscurity (and enjoying it!?) for a few months now and feel comfortable enough to put it out there.

If anyone wants to connect you can find me under my name: http://twitter.com/#!/sarahgirner

Fourth of July

©Sarah Girner


Sahara and I both needed to get out of the city, so we did. What we found outside was

a) a perfect sandwich

b) a turtle making its way slowly and determinately against the flow of the traffic on Route 35

c) a mouse spinning in circles, chasing its own tail, ignoring the two tall women watching

d) that two medium format photographers in a lush, green forest are better than one.

It was magic.

Hoxie Pond, East Sandwich

My family and I have walked around Hoxie Pond about a million times but never set foot in the water. This Memorial Day Weekend we decided that maybe this was a good time to start jumping in.

There are rumors of leeches living in the pond and of East Sandwich teens coming here when it’s dark for midnight skinny dipping. I will believe it when I see it and can point my camera at it.

©Sarah Girner

Pictures of Pictures

I’ve been working on my estate sale series for over two and a half years now and have a huge collection of negatives. I want to turn the project into a book and am still shooting and replacing certain images (in fact, have a look at the gallery because it’s a new edit) and I am trying to come to an understanding of how to put the book together. Whether to include words or have it just be the images. Whether to include people or have it just be the rooms speaking for themselves. If anyone out there has any input, I’d love to hear it.

What I find when I go through my catalog of images sometimes is that there are certain things I shoot no matter how many images I already have of the subject matter. I am always drawn towards images. I take pictures of pictures. It’s compulsive.

©Sarah Girner

Fade Away

It’s been a long time and in the past months I would think of the blog with a twinge of anxiety, sadness and guilt. It is a space I come to write down my thoughts and work things out for myself. It’s a part of the process. Not working things out leaves me a sort of conflicted person.It may not be apparent but I think long and hard about these entries and this year has been a whirlwind. I never did find the time to sit down and reflect and put pen to paper i. e. fingers to keyboard.

On the one hand it was wonderful being so busy: My work was included in an auction that benefited the rebuilding of Sendai and I was a part of several group shows opening in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I did a month-long residency program at the wonderful Camera Club New York where I had a little darkroom all to myself and could listen to rock radio and print my heart out. I presented work at the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph (in the company of photographers that I admire like Chris Verene, Susan Worsham, Chris Morris and Ziyah Gafic) and had the launch of a self-published book with four people that challenge me and my photography on a regular basis.

Sitting down now and writing means inadvertently that things have quietened down, as they should. This is nevertheless terrifying to me. I always want there to be some sort of event just on the horizon, something that I can look forward to and that means that there is recognition and a process of putting the work out there for the world to see. The web is an amazing resource, but sometimes it is also a graveyard. I look at websites of talented photographers, people with a vision that is so clear and sharp it can cut you. Sometimes the websites haven’t been updated since 2008 and I wonder… what happened there? Did they give up? Was it too difficult? Did they succumb to the pressures of the outside world and finally go out and find a full-time job? Were they sick of Ramen? Or maybe it’s family life… weddings, kids, obligations? These talented photographers fade away and that scares me. Thus the need to have the new, next big thing to look forward to.

But I also know that I need to produce work and therefore the calm is welcome. There are two projects that I have started working on. It is much too early to talk about them. All I can say is that I love shooting for them and find myself scanning the negatives with eager anticipation. Sometimes the negatives surprise me, sometimes they hit the nail on the head. Intent in image-making is a two-edged blade.

This is a long-winded way of saying: I am back and look forward to writing and thinking about images again.

The Gallimaufry Edition # 1

Admittedly, it’s been a while. The past few weeks have been incredibly busy, mainly because my friends Sunny, Phil, Sahara, Matt and I have been putting together a zine, which we are going to launch officially this coming Friday the 29th of April.

We want to invite everyone to come and celebrate with us! We start at 7pm at the Pine Box Rock Shop, 12 Grattan Street in Brooklyn. There’ll be prints to look at, zines for sale and possibly delicious Gallimaufry signature cocktails.

If you can’t make it, you can still have a look and/or buy the zine here.

Kishi Kaisei

I can’t quite bear to look at the images coming out of Japan and cannot fathom the even more horrific images that my Japanese friends saw on their television screens as the tsunami occurred . My friend Yukiko wrote me a brief message saying that she was alright and that she had no words for what happened. I can only agree with her. There are no words… As with all natural disasters that unfold in real time, you can only sit there, agog, watching stupidly, feeling helpless and tiny. Yukiko also wrote “It’s too hard this time”.

I think right now for many people in Japan, this is the sentiment. That there’s no way to go on; to move on from here. But I know that Japan will bounce back. It is such a resilient and strong country made up of ambitious and thoughtful people. I traveled there in 2006, not knowing what to expect and found incredible hospitality, warmth, a quiet, profound spirituality, fast trains, delicious food, the wonderful concept of kawaii and above all order and punctuality (imagine how happy this made my German heart).

The Germans and the Japanese have this in common: we like to know what’s coming. Having your control wrested from you by a natural disaster of this scope is unimaginable and I understand the inability to think your way towards any sense of normality. However, this is the land of the rising sun… by default, there is hope there and I know Japan will come back stronger than before. If I remember correctly, there’s a japanese saying “kishi kaisei” which signifies the triumph over a desperate and dire situation and a successful, overwhelming comeback. This is what I wish for Japan.

Sibylle Bergemann

Looking for the photo essay on Clärchens Ballhaus (so that I could post it here) I realized that the photographer Sibylle Bergemann passed away on November 2nd of last year. How did I miss this!? I saw her speak at a podium discussion, which accompanied the closing of the exhibition Ostzeit. She made such an impression on me. She is just like her photographs: quiet, humorous, humble and smart.

At the discussion (entitled “What happened, didn’t happen that way”) Sibylle Bergemann and Harald Hauswald reminisced on their experience of the Berlin Wall coming down (both were in their darkrooms listening to the radio when they heard the news). Whereas Harald Hauswald immediately crossed over at the Tränenpalast (which translates as Palace of Tears) and partied it up with his long-lost friends, Sibylle said she felt more ambivalent. She felt ashamed for having been locked up for such a long time and though she crossed over with her passport briefly, she returned to her apartment rather quickly. From her window she could see the train station and for the following days she caught herself looking out at the train traffic: She wanted to make sure that there were people not only in the trains heading to West Berlin but also returning to the East.

When I look at Sibylle Bergemann’s photographs I always feel like she is letting me in on a secret.

©Sibylle Bergemann