The winds of the Future wait At the iron walls of her Gate, And the western ocean breaks in thunder, And the western stars go slowly under, And her gaze is ever West In the dream of her young unrest. Her sea is a voice that calls, And her star a voice above, And her wind a voice on her walls— My cool, grey city of love. George Sterling.
“San Francisco,” Gary Kamiya writes in his book, Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco, “is all about the collision between man and the universe.” What a wonderful description of the city on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. As someone who wants to avoid people, urban blights, and grand vistas in his photos, San Francisco is a challenge and chalice from a visual standpoint. As a photographer, I struggle to decide: Should I ignore the manmade and instead look to gifts of the gods? Or should I embrace the outcomes of human ingenuity? There is an abundance of both in the city of seven hills.
A poem by George Sterling inspired Kamiya’s book title, so I am taking a cue from both of them — I have come up with a new project: cool gray views of the city, and it is my way of telling its visual story.
It will combine what I love most in my photography — silence, fog, abstraction, and an opportunity to wander. One of my new photo friends on Glass, after seeing my shared photos, called them “dreamy grays.” It never really occurred to me, but that comment and Kamiya’s book helped coalesce everything for me.
Ironically, I have been on the journey for a while; I didn’t realize it. I am sharing some photos that tell you what I have in mind. It is an unending creative effort, and I hope they will one day become part of a larger body of work.
I will tag this series #coolgraycity!
August 21, 2022. San Francisco