A friend of mine borrowed my 6x7 camera. He took it across America and took photographs of what he saw. He went there with such enthusiasm all I could do was be excited to see his results from such a trip.
His mind so open and free to the idea of somewhere we have all seen before, either through advertising or other various projects. The result was nothing like I anticipated.
Perhaps I am biased but I have always felt the Fuji 6x7 has a kind of remarkable quality to it, and its underdog nature matches if not betters the qualities of the infamous Mamiya 7. When everyone was picking their weapon of choice, no one really picks the bulky beauty. But as the mind of Paul, my friend, and the camera met something quite magic occurs.
He has prior knowledge to the subject, whats come before, but he left it all at home and did whatever he wanted. He did this because he wanted to, to feel the streets of the open and wide desert. Perhaps this is why anybody does this.
He never discussed much with me after the experiences he had out there. Nor did he mention what his ideas were when approaching the photograph out there. But I know the mindset he was in through his photographs.
The process of planning a project, or non project in some cases is a meticulous thing. Everyone approaches it differently, never the same. Some read up every source available to them, some don't even look up where they are going, they just arrive and react. The prior knowledge is an element we can control and how we treat that can dictate how successful the project feels. There is no right or wrong way of doing this.
To discard prior knowledge of a place allows for new things to be made. New things to be discovered in old lands and in the world of photographic ruins. The graveyard space is an archive for itself and repetitively flutters it's lashes as someone passes. To discard this and photograph again is the only way you can make anything remotely interesting in the most photographed place in the world. To do this does not suggest complacency, but control over the output of your work and what it achieves.
Photography has developed a kind of habit of celebrating the already seen, and although Paul here has photographed the scenes we've seen before the process implies a different thought. It allows us to look at the scene in a different way, without recycling the same old ideas over and over and over and over and over and over and. You get the idea.