Each March for the past 25 years photographers have been converging on Winnemucca, like swallows returning to Capistrano. This year was different in that our numbers have diminished, whether from advanced age, failing health, death, or simply lack of interest.
Myself, I returned mainly from force of habit. I wasn’t invited, nor did I have a spot on the program. And for the first time, I was asked to pay an admission fee in order to attend the “Shooting the West” symposium.
Happily, my room at the venerable Shady Court was comped—by Louise, whose family has owned the motor court since the Nineteen Twenties. There I shared a cabinette next to one occupied by Mark Citret, a San Francisco photographer whose portfolio includes dozens of pictures taken at the Shady Court, including this one, of the enclosed swimming pool at night.
Such images fill me with a mixture of admiration and resentment. How is it that Mark sees pictures where others see nothing? And why is it when I do point out something I deem interesting, he looks the other way? Does he not agree, or is he just determined to see the world in his way and no one else’s?
Last Sunday we were working a junkyard west of town. I repeatedly called out to Mark to come look at a pile of photogenic railroad ties, but he remained focused on a weather beaten vinyl car top. No amount of cajoling could coax him out from under his dark cloth. Later, when he trained his Sinar on a wooden cable spool, we all assured him there was nothing to be seen there. Well, that’s what we thought.
Later that day, Mark was on his way back to San Francisco. But Sam Hipkins and I stayed on—if for other reason than because our rooms for the night were reserved. Good thing, I thought, because the “no vacancy” sign out front was lit. But then I noticed that ours were the only two cars in the parking lot. Evidently Louise had taken the night off.