About the Book
I'm the cook at a cafe inside a bookstore downtown Xenia, Ohio. It's been near a year and half since we opened, making scratch made soups, salads, sandwiches, and larger plates - specials of the day - comfort food mostly, and desserts too. Behind the cafe is a not very attractive block size city parking lot, rimmed by the back of store fronts on the north and east sides and by a few private residences to the west. Every couple of days or so, taking a break from the fluorescents of the kitchen, I wander out back to these built up asphalt badlands and make a photograph or two of what I encounter. Sometimes it's a wide view to capture changes in the weather or the turning of the seasons, and other times it's focusing on the features of the space - the color or texture of a wall or the way the shapes and lines come together in the viewfinder. Other days it's the things I find - something lost, something discarded, something forgotten - that ask to be seen. There's life back there too and I take pleasure in getting to know the plants as they thrive through the warmer months and settle in for the colder, and every now and then I'll meet another person and I'll ask if I can take their picture. At first it was a challenge - was it possible to make an image of some value from such paltry pickings - but soon enough I realized it's not unlike cooking well: observe the seasons and appreciate the changes, attend to the details and taste every step of the way, and use what's fresh - what's been given. And sometimes too, cooking is making something out of nothing, and making from that nothing something to be enjoyed.
Working thirty years in art and photography and exhibited nationally, James has earned an MFA from the University of Arizona, labored as a master printer in a forensic photography lab and taught award winning photography classes in Tucson and Chicago. Born in Stuttgart, West Germany and after living and working in Olympia, Tokyo and Ann Arbor, James in recent years settled his studio and darkroom in Yellow Springs, Ohio where he fashions, with a wide range of photographic means, manners, methods and mistakes, images of the abject, troubled, melancholy and grotesque. In 2011 his chemically manipulated gelatin silver prints were selected for an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award. In the recent past James served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Photography at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and as an Adjunct Professor of Photography at Edison Community College, University of Dayton and Wright State University. Presently, James foments photography at Antioch College.