Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

November 25, 2015

Descanso memorial – Halloween

10-17-07_Halloween Costume - I-15 Frontage Road - Victorville - California 0845

Untitled (Halloween Costume, I-15 Frontage Road, Victorville, California) copyright Douglas Stockdale

While researching my In Passing – Lest I Forget project, I came across an interesting term; Descanso memorial. This is a Spanish derived word, literally meaning “to rest”. It originates from the old Spanish practice of marking the place where a coffin was placed the ground along the route to the cemetery, allowing the coffin bearers to rest. As the photographer Dave Nance states about the Descanso memorials, “The association thus created between the road, the interrupted journey, and death as a destination, eventually found expression in the practice of similarly marking the location of fatal accidents on the highway.”

Descanso now appears to also designate those memorials which are decorated for each of the holidays. Which is the case of the I-15 Frontage Road memorial that I photographed near Victorville, above. I had photographed this memorial about mid-October, just prior to Halloween. Not evident in the photograph is a bowl of candy nestled within the flower arrangement at the base of this memorial, along with a memorial plaque, which from the wording was probably placed there by the mother of the individual who died at this place.

Best regards

November 4, 2015

Juggling Photographic Projects – Just like Life

Filed under: In Passing, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 10:57 pm

Plastic Lei - Maui - Hawaii

Plastic Lei, Maui Hawaii, 2006 copyright Douglas Stockdale

So the issue with refocusing my earlier project is that this results in having two photographic projects in progress. My Ciociaria memory book is published, but I have not obtained any meaningful exhibitions of this body of work, thus if you take into account that I will be looking for exhibition venues for Ciociaria, that places three photographic projects on my plate. All of this in conjunction with the fact that I have a full time (non-photographic) day-job and a loving family to attend to. And lets not forget my photographic book reviews on The Photobook blog that I like to fit in. At times, it all feels complex, layered if not outright overwhelming.

This is where my day-job does help as a large portion of what I do entails all of the aspects of project management, which provides much needed experience to lean-into in order to keep on keeping-on. The skills of project management help me get organized and probably keeps me decently focused on what tasks needs to be accomplished next. The draw back is that getting “too” organized can creative limits, box me in, thus I try to stay “messy” organized, more of a loose project structure rather than try to have a rigidly defined project. Another way of saying that I try to be flexible; time, goals, tasks, relationships, etc. I need to allow some give and take and know my priorities, such as family comes first.

One key aspect of project management that has helped me is to set goals, both long term as well as short term. This helps me organize what tasks are needed and what time frame I would like to complete them in. Such as for each of my projects, one long term goal is have it published as a book, which for one project, this is complete. Nice. Another is that I would like to have one solo exhibition of each body of work, which is a goal that is in progress.

Meanwhile, I am reevaluating the photographs for In Passing, while still composing and developing my Memory Pods photographs. It has been a while since I examined all of the photographs that support the In Passing project, so I am giving them a fresh look and finding some pleasant surprises. I am not sure why I did not realize the potential for a number of these photographs, but nevertheless, I do now.

For Plastic Lei, Maui Hawaii, above, I have dramatically modified the cropping of the photograph; from a vertical image to a square image. Earlier if I had composed a subject to be contained within a photograph, I would do my best to keep it intact in the final version. Not so now. I realize that for this photograph the emotional aspect was preserved even if I lost the top portion of this memorial. This is one of the few photographs that include a vehicle, as I had accidentally made an exposure while a car ran through the composition, but I liked the ghostly (blurred) appearance. I then made another half dozen exposures with various vehicles moving through the frame until I obtained this exposure. Nice juxtaposition of the two key elements and creates just enough visual tension. And like many of the photographs that I am reworking for this project, I adjusted the overall nicer tonality, which I think is a nice improvement over my earlier version. Nice.


November 2, 2015

Refocusing a project

Morning Shadow - Central California

Morning Shadow, Denverton, California, 2007 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Following up on yesterday’s post perhaps a little more about how this project has come back full circle to a Black & White portfolio. As a project, this series of roadside memorials was starting to get a little traction in 2008 and I felt it had potential to go beyond the LensWork magazine publication as a photobook. The project at that time had a uniqueness, although  I did feel that the subject did not lend itself to posters (I did get this wrong) and something folks would want to hang in their living room. After a couple of rejected book submissions the project began to coast, as feeling a little defeated, I stopped making book submissions and became very introspective.

As a result, I “jumped the shark“, the t.v. slang for when there is a big change in a series plot, resulting in the audience losing interest and the series quickly tanks. I think that moving to color photographs and renaming the project did just that. I lost continuity with my audience. I did learn more about myself during this transition, such as photographing my Ciociaria project in color which resulted in the publication of a book. But in retrospect, I think that the In Passing project was visually stronger in Black & White.

Now I am re-examining all of my original photographs and although I will develop these as Black & White images, I have found that my interpretation has become a bit more refined. Part of which is that I have learned more about how to convert a color digital file in Photoshop to Black & White.

As an example is this photograph, Morning Cross, Central California, I had used a lens polarizer for the original exposure, but regretfully that only effected part of the morning sky. This resulted in a dramatic darkening on the left side of the sky and fading to almost white on the right side of the print, which I had found visually distracting. Now with a Photoshop Black & White adjustment layer and playing with the two blue settings, I am able to create a more even sky tone across the horizon. I think the print/image retains more of the emotional impact that I had experienced and I am very happy to have revisited this image.


November 1, 2015

In Passing – Lest I Forget

Randy - Route 179 - Nevada

Randy, Route 179, Nevada, copyright Douglas Stockdale

Reading the recent October issue of PDN magazine, which is their annual photobook issue, I found myself thinking back to my real first photographic project, a series of roadside memorials. As a quick recap, it was a series that I became very fascinated by in late in 2006. This project gained real momentum in 2007, as I made note of each various roadside memorial we came across and I quickly tried to figure out when and how to photograph each one. This Black & White photographic project, In Passing, was subsequently published by LensWork magazine in their Jan/Feb 2008 #74 issue, then I self-published a hard cover photobook  of In Passing using Blurb (which was juried into a self-publishing photobook exhibition in Portland, OR) and one image, Winter Field, Route 30, Indiana was published in Brooks Jensen’s Looking at Images in 2014.

During the publications, I had read Nathalie Herschdorfer’s book Afterwards (Contemporary Photography Confronting the Past) and began rethinking my earlier decision to convert my photographs to Black & White and that using the original color could be relevant. Meanwhile I still found myself photographing road-side memorials, but now staying with Color, not transforming these photographs to Black & White images. Concurrent with the color decision I had also decided to rename the project to Lest I Forget.

So I am now back full circle, with the project again in Black & White. And reconciled that the project should have a combination name; In Passing – Lest I Forget.

In the next couple of weeks, I plan to write more about the continuing metamorphose of this photographic project.


October 22, 2014

Black & White Photographic Challenge – Day 3



I-15 Frontage Rd, Victorville, CA 2007 copyright Douglas Stockdale

This is my day 3 photograph as a result of being nominated by Jeff Alu to participate in a Black & White Photographic challenge (aka BWC) on FaceBook. For more background on the BWC, see my previous post, here.

Yesterday, I posted a photograph that I had made in early 2007 at a time that I felt that I was in a state of transition. At this time I was becoming aware of the concepts of contemporary landscape photography and my interests were now to investigate the natural landscape with regard to metaphoric narratives. This photograph above was made as a result of that creative transition after I expanded my investigation to include the urban landscape.

In very early 2007 I initiated my first contemporary landscape project, In Passing (B&W version) to investigate memory, in this case I began photographing the impromptu memorials created by family and friends for someone who had passed as a result of a tragic accident. Initially I was using a documentary approach to capture these memorials as examples of folk art. As the project continued, I realized that I was in fact investigating the concept of memory and how these families and friends were attempting to preserve their own memories by building these testimonials. Much later, I was to see these memorials as a possible metaphors for those individuals who have deminita or Alzheimer’s disease; physically present, but due to their fading memories, only a living shell and a living reminder of the past.

I found this memorial off the I-15 freeway, an apparent accident that had occurred on the Frontage Road. From the wording on the hand-made plaque that was in the foreground of the bouquet of artificial flower’s, I suspect that this was built by the young man’s family as the wording was by his mother. Over the months I came to understand that the cross was decorated for each season, this one for Halloween. The monument resembled someone in a Halloween costume, maybe his costume as a youth, and nestled within the artificial flowers was a trick-or-treat basket filled with candy. Extremely touching.

My attempt was to place this memorial within the larger landscape and also explored (below) an even wider perspective and narrative about this seemingly barren and poignant place.

Subsequently this image was published in LensWork magazine, issue #74, January/February 2008, one of 22 photographs as a featured portfolio. This was a pretty awesome artistic validation! I subsequently self-published a large format photobook of In Pasing thru Blurb in a small edition (about 13 copies),which is now out of print.

The B&W photographer that I nominated for day 3 is Vicki Topaz.


10-14-07 I-15 frontage Rd Victorville_0847bw

December 9, 2013

Book Fair participation


Me (photo by Wendy Hicks) at Duncan Miller gallery, Santa Monica, CA

Yesterday afternoon was a fun and interesting event being a participant at the Duncan Miller gallery Photo Art Book Fair held in Santa Monica. Actually my first time as a “exhibitor”, so thought I would share a little bit about this experience.

First, the gallery space was about the size of my living room/dining room combination, with great lighting. Although with the exhibition tables ringing the two exhibition rooms, that meant that we had to stand directly in the spot lights. That was initially a little uncomfortable,  but after removing my jacket, I was comfortable enough.

Sarah Hadley on behalf of the gallery had provided a list of things to bring and what to expect, but in retrospect, it was missing a few items. I have purposefully not made any business cards, which I was only asked twice, but not having a business card at this event was a mistake that I will shortly correct.

Take-a-ways, promotional cards, brochures, etc was not on Hadley’s list, but this is something you need to include on your check list (now mine) if you are going to participate in similar events. Lots of folks walking by and you are not going to get their card to follow up, so give them something to remember you by. There were 26 of us exhibiting, so thinking that you will be remembered a couple of months after the event is expecting too much.

This was a great experience for me to directly interact with photobook  and photography collectors as they spent time with my work. My book Ciociaria was an easy read for attendees compared to the Pine Lake artist book. Ciociaria is a contemporary and traditional published photobook which can be picked up and viewed at leisure. Pine Lake on the other hand as lots of layers and parts, not really meant for a quick read, thus not well suited for a line of attendees who are waiting their turn. Nevertheless, Pine Lake continued to receive high praises for creativity and originality as everyone who spent a little time with it remarked they had not recalled seeing anything similar. Very cool!

Since I wanted to cover a gamut of options (a range of book prices aka price points), I also brought copies of LensWork #74 in which my portfolio for In Passing was featured. And I brought one of my Foundations portfolio editions, a retrospective collection of my early black & white landscape photographs that I completed in the 1980’s.

And of course, there were a bunch of friends coming by, such as Ann Mitchell, Jim McKinnis and Sarah Lee as well as a bunch of my co-conspirators (oops; co-exhibitors) that included Renee Jacobs with her partner Wendy Hicks, Sara Jane Boyers and Kathleen Laria McLauglin.


Renee Jacobs holding her recently published Paris (discreetly concealing the cover’s ta-tas) while I hold Pine Lake. By chance (yeah, after a week of planning) we had adjacent exhibition tables.


Kathleen Laria McLauglin, author of “Color of Hay“, which I reviewed on The Photobook last year.


Ann Mitchell, both of our portfolios were published in LensWork issue #74


Sarah Hadley, exhibition coordinator extraordinaire, also Executive Director of Filter Festival

November 3, 2013

Winter Field


Winter Field copyright Douglas Stockdale & text copyright Brooks Jensen, publisher of LensWork magazine

Published on the blog LensWork Daily Looking at Images by Brooks Jensen

This image comes from a portfolio that consists of photographs of roadside memorials and crosses, each a marker indicating a sad story. I love the way Stockdale has emphasized the emotion in this image by using so many compositional lines that are tilted. The cross itself is tilted, the shadow of the cross is tilted, there are tilted trees on the left side of the photograph that are leaning into the photograph. On the right hand edge of the photograph there is a vertical tree with a dominant branch that is leaning into the field and into the photograph. The weeds are tilted, the clouds are tilted, everything in this photograph is tilted giving us the emotional clue, the visual clue, of the impact that something is not right. In all of those tilted lines and tilted angles the things tell us that the emotional impact of this photograph is a little bit askew. That is to say, metaphorically speaking, the person whose story is represented by the cross has probably passed away prematurely. This was an accident; this wasn’t supposed to happen; this person is a relatively young person. (We can tell if we look at the details on the cross they were only 44 years old when that  accident took their life.) All of these tilted lines tend to give us that emotional feeling.

Another aspect of this photographic that contributes to that are the animal tracks on the left-hand side of the photograph. I have to admit, I didn’t see those animal tracks at first, and when I mentioned it to Douglas Stockdale in my interview with him he was not particularly conscious of them either. He knew they were there, but the importance of them in the photograph is so subtle. They are the traits of life no longer visible and that is the metaphor of the entire photograph – life no longer visible. And, of course, that same metaphor exists in the stalks of the winter weeds. All of this contributes to reinforcing the feeling that we get from the primary subject in the center of this photograph.

Brooks Jensen

Winter Field was one of the photographs published in LensWork (magazine) issue #74, January – February 2008 as part of my portfolio In Passing. Subsequently In Passing self-published 2008 as hardcover book with Blurb, now out of print.

Continuing to evaluate this photograph in a broader context as a part of my project Lest I Forget


April 23, 2012

Lest I Forget – Mission Viejo

I-5 Mission Viejo, CA photograph 2012 copyright Douglas Stockdale

A continuation of my investigation of memory and its preservation.

March 27, 2012

National Safey Council – my road side memorial photograph

National Safety Council – photograph copyright 2012 Douglas Stockdale

The National Safety Council (USA) has incorporated one of the photographs from my project “Lest I Forget” into a monthly safety campaigns. Editorial freedom; they have grayed down the photograph to keep the emphasis on their text.

March 18, 2012

Lest I Forget – Ferentino Italy

Ferentino, Italy copyright 2012 Douglas Stockdale

The attempt to preserve memories is more prevalent in Italy than I earlier thought. They can be very subtle and difficult to discern, but this one in Ferentino was very obvious.

Older Posts »

The Silver is the New Black Theme. Blog at


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 133 other followers