I’ve always been an avid collector of all sorts of things, and when it comes to people I’m drawn to characters, especially the more eccentric, eclectic, and colorful individuals. Not that I want to have relationships with most of them, but I at least like to observe them. Perhaps by distilling the messiness and craziness of most human interactions into these static images I can indulge my anthropological voyeurism without stressing my limited sociability. I can control and edit with keystrokes and mouse-clicks. It celebrates diversity if nothing else.
Most of us look for meaning among our memories, especially as we approach senescence and oblivion. While I concentrated on seeking adventure and beauty in the natural world, I eventually realized my quests would not be nearly as interesting without the accompanying human elements, even if only remotely involved.
Of course finding people interesting ranges from being appalled to being attracted by them. Most of us point our cameras, and thus our attention at the things we love or admire—family, friends, pets, scenery—although some “serious” photographers focus (or blur, as the artistic case may be) on disgusting and banal subjects (rotting corpses, urban blight, etc.) to get attention. I too am guilty of photographing road kill carcasses and flies on shit but I won’t bore anyone with a book of such images. I do however think the human zoo has universal appeal. Nearly everyone indulges in people-watching at times, so perhaps my explanation can stop at that—simply that we are curious about one another, monkeys gazing in a mirror.
Here then is my collection of people. It ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, from fleeting and casual to profound connection. It seems my most gregarious years are behind me now, and in my retirement I tend to shun crowds and large noisy gatherings, preferring the company of dogs most of the time. Anyone who knows me will be struck by the irony of this book about people.
Dennis Slifer is a writer and photographer with wide-ranging interests. He is the author of eight books about prehistoric rock art in the Southwest, as well as "The Caves of Maryland" and various environmental reports and magazine articles. In 2007 he retired as an environmental scientist in New Mexico and moved to rural Virginia where he divides his time between writing, homesteading, and traveling. He has produced a memoir plus eleven other books with Blurb since 2011: - Be Careful What You Wish For: The Saga of Sow’s Ear Farm - Ambling Around the Atacama and the Altiplano - Sol y Sombra: Meeting the Shadow - Art on the Rocks: The Best of the Quest - My People Collection - Quay's Tale: A Memoir of Monkey Boy - Critters: A Tribute to Compassion - Sideway Cider Squeezin" - Marking Change: Post-contact Rock Art in the Southwest - Curios: Collecting Eclectic - THIS IS IT!: Strange Signs, Social Oddities, and Antidotes to Boredom
SIDEWAY CIDER SQUEEZIN' Published November 28, 2012
CRITTERS Published October 23, 2012
QUAY'S TALE: A MEMOIR OF MONKEY BOY Published July 11, 2012
ART on the ROCKS Published March 18, 2012
Sol y Sombra: Meeting the Shadow Published February 15, 2012
Ambling Around the Atacama and the Altiplano Published January 29, 2012
Be Careful What You Wish For: The Saga of Sow's Ear Farm Published January 24, 2012